Lucy Rose at Liberty Hall Theatre on Sunday April 14th 2019

The Liberty Hall Theatre on Eden Quay was the perfect space for Lucy Rose and her accompanying sextet of cello, violin, guitar, organ, percussion and fretless bass to let loose the sombre majesty of her most recent album ‘No Words Left’.

This performance almost never happened and was in doubt almost until the moment that they took to the stage, all thanks to the band being beset by illness overnight. Lucy Rose fills us in, “I’m sorry if this isn’t the most energetic performance,” she quips, in a deadpan fashion.

She needn’t have worried though as the assembled crowd were all too happy to sit in silence through song after song about her and her misery. Solo(w) casts off the set, laying out Lucy Rose’s austere musical vision astutely. The assembled band resemble a renaissance painting awaiting their chance to move. Impressive throughout, especially the string section of two violins and cello.

Lucy Rose has a well-documented issue with drummers, the lack of which helped to give her most recent album a timelessness and older tracks such as Second Chance get a positive makeover in this regard. However, with many of the tracks existing in this ephemeral, otherworldly sphere, some of this new percussion provides too much of a tether to reality and is occasionally distracting from the otherwise excellently rendered material. The best use of percussion comes during Strangest of Ways when the band all join in on handclaps.

Lucy bounces between her Nord and centre stage for guitar duties. Is This Called Home is an excellent early example of her skills building slowly until the strings take hold of the room like a blanket. Treat Me Like A Woman takes things to a different expressive plane the perfect combo of bass and guitar giving Lucy’s mournful refrains space to flourish.

Conversation the opening track from ‘No Words Left’ is almost overwhelming in a live setting thanks to the kick with which the string section provides from the midpoint. As with the album No Word Left Pt1 follows with Lucy Rose unleashing a barrage of expressive wailing of wordless vocals reminiscent of Pink Floyd.

“I’m not going to do the go off stage come back on stage thing tonight” says Lucy informing the crowd that she may not be able to return if she leaves as she battles with her body to continue this performance before a barnstorming performance of I’m Not Scared of Anything.

Support act Samantha Crain returns to the stage for moral and vocal support on Song After Song the “all about my misery” line drawing a smile from Rose and a laugh from the crowd. Before the night concludes on a high with No Words Left Pt.2, Lucy Rose returning to those otherworldly refrains with ease.

If this is Lucy Rose struggling, then singer-songwriters the world over need to suck it up and raise their game, otherwise it’s only a matter of time before Lucy Rose leaves them in her wake.