Lights - The Underbelly, London
Canada's Valerie Anne Poxleitner performs and records under the moniker Lights. The Canadian released her debut album The Listening last September back home, with the collection dropping in the UK last week.
Lights celebrated the album's arrival with a low key set at London's Underbelly. The secret showcase wasn't that much of a secret as a horde of Lights faithful followers had heard the news and crammed themselves down the front of the intimate Hoxton club. Whoever set the venue up needs shooting as they stuck a row of high stools just a few feet away from the stage meaning that some people were stuck behind the seated fans with a very restricted view, with the fans who braved the front position having to sit on the floor or crouch so as to not to get in the way of the seated "front row", which strangely included a man dressed as a banana, holding maracas!
Although I had heard her name bandied about for a while and had a brief dalliance with her 2008 Canadian EP a few months back I didn't really know much about the girl and had only given her UK album a handful of plays in recent days. The Listening sounded promising on its first few run throughs but it had failed to pull me in as there were no tracks that jumped out at me instantly. I had hoped that hearing the tracks in a live setting would help give each song its own identity.
The Toronto singer was joined onstage by a drummer and keyboard player. Things started off with the title track from the release, with the song generating a huge response from the audience, including a celebratory maraca shake from the banana! I was pleased to hear Lights asking the audience to stand up on its completion as I hate any gigs where sitting is involved!
The set was pulled from her electro pop debut, with most songs from the album given an airing as the singer flitted between keyboards and keytar. She mentioned throughout the set how she was very thankful of her UK fans, especially as these were exciting times with her album just being released, leading to her taking pictures of it sitting in HMV. The singer seemed almost as excited with her new video, filmed for the track "Second Go", saying that you'll see the irony in the video when you view it.
The Canadian warbler's live set can't be faulted as she threw herself into her performance with a relentless enthusiasm leading to her "sweating from her eyes" after one song, though I imagine it was just dripping from her hair! I was really won over by Lights exceptional set, with several songs really shining, including Canadian single "Saviour", "River", a really high energy "Ice" that seemed a lot faster than the recorded version and a stupendous take on ballad "Pretend". Since viewing the show I've given the album a couple of spins and really appreciate its contents now and look forward to giving it many more listens.