Music Reviews

Live Review: Gabrielle Aplin, Rock City (05/02/16)

It is only four months since Gabrielle Aplin graced the Nottingham stage but the crowd seemed still to have missed her. Since she played at Rescue Rooms in October, her second album Light Up The Dark has only got more popular and she clearly enjoyed being back in front of her “favourite crowd ever”.

Supporting Gabrielle Aplin on tour was Lewis Watson, fellow singer-songwriter who was a last minute addition to the tour after Hudson Taylor were unable to take part. Gabrielle Aplin featured on his 2013 EP Some Songs with Some Friends but it was through his Youtube channel ‘HolyLoowis’ that Lewis gained a following. Still not particularly well known, the crowd enjoyed his set and Lewis laughed awkwardly at a few screaming fans on the front row who potentially had bought their tickets just to see him. His songs were quietly striking and he clearly loved his moment in the spotlight. This was a fantastic opportunity for this talented musician to travel the country and appeal to fans of his genre, present to see Aplin. He’ll have certainly picked up a few new followers along the journey.

23-year-old Aplin shot to fame in November 2012 when the Christmas John Lewis advert featured her cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’ and the single shot to number 1 in December. Her first album English Rain was released in May 2013 and did similarly well, reaching number 2 in the album charts. Her second album Light Up The Dark was released in September 2015 and Aplin was back for the second time in six months to promote it.

As she repeatedly mentioned throughout the gig, Nottingham is Gabrielle Aplin’s favourite crowd. Most artists in most venues seem to say this, and I wonder whether she said the same thing to Birmingham, to Manchester, to London – you get the idea. But her enthusiasm for the venue was certainly not forced and the crowd responded amazingly. Every single song got a strong reception and clearly Aplin has a loyal, dedicated fan base in the city. To sell out a show just four months after performing the same songs at Rescue Rooms is testament to that fact – she is only getting more and more popular.

“To sell out a show just four months after performing the same songs at Rescue Rooms is testament to that fact – she is only getting more and more popular”

The night was a good mix of old classics from English Rain and her new, rockier songs from Light Up The Dark. ‘Home’ and ‘Salvation’ particularly are on every advert or film trailer these days but Aplin must be proud that the crowd still goes crazy for them, three years after they were released. Her new album shows a move away from the genre that swallows so many performers up – that of the cute, beautiful singer-songwriter. Opening the night with ‘Coming Home’ in silhouette with no band was bold and brave, and clearly it is Aplin’s mission to move towards the indie folk-rock genre. She used an assortment of guitars, not just her trusty acoustic but a vast number of electric guitars that made her louder and prouder.

Not much older than most of us at university, Aplin already owns her own label and signs artists she believes in. One of those musicians is 20-year-old Callum Burrows from Bramcote in Nottingham who is better known by his stage name Saint Raymond. As a “special treat” for the Rock City crowd, Burrows joined Aplin on stage to perform his recent release ‘Come Back To You’. It was a rousing performance and this young singer-songwriter has a bright future ahead of him: he is fast becoming one of Nottingham’s most talents artists.

“It was fantastic to hear Aplin go back to her roots with just her voice and her guitar”

Another treat was Aplin’s stunning cover of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, poignant for this tour and well-appreciated by the crowd. Her quiet, simple cover visibly moved the crowd and it was fantastic to hear Aplin go back to her roots with just her voice and her guitar.

Gabrielle Aplin is a gem for those who enjoy the singer-songwriter genre. True, her songs are on pretty much every advert or trailer, but that is a testament to her rising popularity. With a hugely successful new album that sees her moving towards a new genre of song writing, Aplin’s success can only continue to grow. Her voice will never be anything but beautiful and her lyrics and musical ability sets her apart within the overcrowded folk-pop genre. It was a pleasure to see her perform: Aplin clearly loves the Nottingham crowd, and the feeling was mutual. Hopefully it won’t be long before she’s back.

Beth Rowland

Beth is currently listening to ‘Formation’ by Beyoncé

Image: Wikipedia Commons

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Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham's IMPACT Magazine.

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