Having never been to EVAC before, I didn’t really know what to expect, but after climbing the stairs and being introduced to ‘The Loft’ I could tell I was in for a treat.
The opening act was up and coming LIPA artist Kate Hazeldine. With only a piano to accompany her she brought a deep, haunting ambience to the room, all the time intricately weaving her powerful vocal with impressive ease. It made for a captivating, if not a little brief, set. The local talent continued as the charming 23 Fake Street took to the stage. With a host of covers including ‘Pyro’ by Kings of Leon along side their own original material, 23 Fake Street ensured the atmosphere remained a serene one.
Perhaps as a result, everyone had remained around the periphery of the room. The ostensible dissonance was soon quashed however, as final support, Karima Francis, climbed onto the stage. Urging everyone forward, the atmosphere shifted towards the intimate live experience you would expect from a venue like EVAC. Francis, as well as being an extremely talented guitarist, had a knack for thought provoking lyricism, and her distinctive voice left the audience awe-struck for the entirety of her set.
As a follower of Billy Locket’s music for a few years now, it has been clear to see how much his sound has grown and developed into something all the more soulful. Speaking with him before the gig, he stated that his focus was shifting away from the guitar and more towards piano in order to create an ‘inner moment’ feel to his shows. Through this Locket has created a unique and evocative live atmosphere and relationship with his audience; songs such as ‘Your Love Hurts’ bear shades of real artistry and beauty. Covering Coldplay’s recent single, ‘Magic’, and transforming it into something infinitely more deserving of its title, the audience as well seemed to feed off his natural performing ability.
Though his material, and his live setup, are diverse and exciting, ‘Old Man’ the title track from his latest EP which saw him as the only unsigned artist in the UK Top 40, received a particularly good reception. On the whole though, arguments could be made for every song, testament to the clarity and passion Locket drives into his live performance.
Rising from practicing in his basement, to playing venues across the country and supporting the likes of KT Tunstall and Lana Del Ray, his biggest headline show at The Tabernacle early next month is sure to be something special, just as this rainy Wednesday night at EVAC was. Despite his talent and rising status arguing otherwise, Locket still treats every gig as if it were his first, heading straight to the merchandise stand to greet fans, sign CD’s and thank everyone for coming along. A phenomenal night with four brilliants acts who I no doubt will see again in the future.
WORDS: Laura Copestake