Lights - Water Rats London
Canadian keyboard thumper Valerie Anne Poxleitner is known to her fans globally as Lights. The World Of Warcraft loving electro pop songstress released her debut album The Listening in a variety of countries including the UK earlier in the year, with an acoustic EP coming out back home a few months later which peaked at number 7 in the Canadian album charts.
I had the good fortune to attend a very intimate and immensely enjoyable Lights showcase in London back in May, with a only a handful of fans viewing the set so I extremely underestimated the singer's popularity in the Capital; setting off in what I thought was good time for her show at Water Rats (a warm up for her appearance at Reading Festival), I arrived only to find a lengthy line waiting to get in that was seemingly a lot longer before the doors opened! Fans had ventured from all over Europe to attend the sold out performance and I would imagine there would be a few Canadians in attendance too. I used all my gig going skills to squeeze my way down to the right hand side of the venue, ending up in a space in the third row that wasn't great for photographs as all my shots were pretty much taken through gaps between people's heads, but it was an excellent spot for enjoying the show in general.
Lights and her two band members took to the stage to huge roars, opening with the title track from The Listening, with the singer greeting the crowd with "Hello London, how are you guys?, Oh my goodness, it's so good to be back" on the song's completion. The trio pulled the majority of their set from the debut, with several songs completely transformed in the live arena; 'Saviour', unveiled after a lengthy introduction, forthcoming UK single 'Second Go' and 'February Air' were all promoted from decent tracks to full on anthems due to the overwhelming audience reaction, with the crowd blasting back the song's lyrics, leading to the singer telling us she was the luckiest person in the world having such amazing fans during a quieter moment in the set.
Lights had been flitting between synths and her keytar throughout the evening but mixed things up during the acoustic part of the event, moving to acoustic guitar and another keyboard. The singer took a moment before she kicked off the stripped down solo part of the show (not that type of performance!), passing out sweets from a bucket she was given from some girls from Belgium. The little treats was meant to be offered around the room "spreading the love" but I've a feeling some fat bugger hogged them all to themselves down the left hand side as we didn't get even a sniff of the gummi bears over where I was standing! I may have been craving confectionary but it didn't dampen the pleasure I received from the calmer songs on offer as I actually think Lights' voice come across better when there's less instrumentation as it's got a great tone. This was proved during a gorgeous version of album song 'Pretend' and it also wasn't too shabby for EP track 'Romance Is', a song she wrote when she was a lot younger and a bit emo and a new tune whose name escaped me, written in London when she was tired and feeling at the bottom of the barrel.
The trio regrouped, bringing the dance element back into play as the set began to draw to a close, with the singer even granting the odd request to audience members, and their sensational performance led to shouts and cheers once they'd left the stage. This was the first time I'd heard an actual "We want more!" chant in a while and who could resist such a plea? Lights and her gang certainly couldn't anyway, popping back onto the Water Rats stage, ending the evening proper with a pounding 'Drive My Soul'.