If there’s anything more wholesome than a 25-year-old singer-songwriter reading empowering messages from the label of a teabag, whilst simultaneously gushing excitedly about playing a sold out headline gig in her hometown, then I really don’t know what it is. Having released the Avalon EP just a couple of weeks ago, her second musical offering since Light Up The Dark in 2015, Gabrielle Aplin is back on the road, and is clearly as popular as ever, evidenced by the fact that tickets for her short UK October tour certainly weren’t easy to come by.
With Gabrielle emerging from backstage, the upbeat harmonies of ‘Sweet Nothing’ sent the crowd screaming and dancing as they recognized one of her most popular songs and prepared themselves for an evening of new tracks and throwbacks. With the setlist balancing a fairly even mix of tunes from both her studio albums and two most recent EPs, each older track was revamped and restyled for the tour, the result being a gig full of very raw and personal performances. Songs such as ‘Panic Chord’, ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Please Don’t Say You Love Me’, sounded especially good when stripped back to their folk roots, and felt new and fresh despite having been released almost five years ago.
The more pop-influenced vibe of newer tracks such as ‘Night Bus’ and most recent single ‘Waking Up Slow’ also went down a treat with the crowd, heavily contrasting Gabrielle’s traditionally acoustic style and sounding experimental and interesting. ‘Miss You’, a tune released just under a year ago and possessing strong tropical house elements lifted the room’s atmosphere, a process which happened repeatedly as Gabrielle and her band worked their way through a succession of both fun and more thoughtful tracks.
Playing a remixed piano version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’, emotions were high as the crowd fell silent, Gabrielle’s tender yet powerful voice filling the packed room and sending shivers down the spines of the audience. ‘That Girl’, a song written and recorded with Gabrielle’s producer friend, Salute, was also performed with emotion and raw energy. Explaining the song’s lyrics were commenting on women’s improved yet still inferior position in society, the passion as Gabrielle sang was tangible, and you could tell that she meant every word that she’d written.
As the set drew to a close, the crowd chanted for more as the inevitable encore approached. Ending the night with ‘Home’, a track taken from Gabrielle’s first album, it became clear that if they love her even the slightest bit as much we do here when she embarks on her US tour early next year, she’s going to be a massive success.