24-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Claire Cottrill – aka Clairo – has had quite the rise since her days recording and playing covers from the age of just 13. The Atlanta, Georgia-born; Carlisle, Massachusetts native (wow, that’s a mouthful!) is now two critically-acclaimed albums in and comes to London’s infamous Brixton Academy to close out a world tour in support of sophomore record Sling. And this comes after a summer of festivals, including following George Ezra on Glastonbury Festival’s John Peel Stage.
Given the hushed tones that follow through Sling, and with a keyboard (hosting a glass of red wine) and chair set up centre stage, many might be wondering just how the shy-appearing singer will fill the vast expanse of the old Astoria Variety Cinema. But as she lets Sling opener Bambi loose, it’s immediately apparent that should never have been a concern. “London, how you doin’?” she yells out to a riotous response.
Cottrill rises and switches to guitar for Zinnias, beaming as she takes the opportunity to traverse the vast stage during the song’s musical breaks, the blend of indie-pop, guitars and long saxophone notes instilling a gentle bop but serene calm across the South London crowd.
“How are we doing? Are we good?” the 24-year-old asks of her audience to a screaming response in the affirmative. “Holy Fuck, there are so many of you, thank you for coming tonight, my goodness”, she exclaims before recalling her last visit to the venue where she collected the NME Award for Best New Act in the World 2020. Her six-piece band are each introduced by name before swaying Sling cut Wade is aired, complete with soft flowing flute.
Cottrill switches to an electric guitar and digs into debut record Immunity next for a one-two punch of North followed by breakthrough hit Bags (“you guys know the words to this one?” she teases), lifting the 5,000-strong crowd out of their warm blanket of Sling warmth and into the exploding, indie-pop, singalong beats she’s known for as she traverses the strange cocoon-shaped beacons that adorn the stage.
More from Immunity follow, a storming drum beat kicking off the slow funk of Softly, Cottrill’s stage strut distinctly graceful given her smart attire of shirt, tie and blazer (a uniform replicated across her band) but her crowd are more than enamoured as she crouches close to the stage’s edge, singing directly to a lucky few.
Slow-drive Immunity opener Alewife rounds out this foray into her debut record before Cottrill puts out a request to her audience to put their phones away for just one song. “You can have your phones out for the rest of the night, but I want this one with you” she requests before the melancholy Sling cut Blouse is aired.
Soft guitar-driven Just For Today, keyboard-led Harbor, country-tinged Reaper and funk-driven Partridge from Sling follow next, the crowd swaying slowly along.
But it is the closing trio of 2018 E.P. diary 001 tracks 4EVER, Flaming Hot Cheetos and Pretty Girl, followed by Cottrill’s biggest hit – 2019 single Sofia – that take the Brixton Academy audience to the highest of highs, confetti cannons showering them with shimmering paper at the song’s crescendo.
It’s great to hear these legacy tracks unleashed with the addition of tonight’s six-piece band and intricate instrumentation sounding so much fuller, richer and simply more vibrant than their bedroom-recorded counterparts.
Tonight’s sold-out Brixton Academy show demonstrates the calibre of this 24-year-old rising star, already recognised by contemporaries such as Phoebe Bridgers (who joined her on stage for Bags recently in Milan) as well as Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford who recruited Clairo for his recently-release debut solo record.
Live review and Photography of Clairo @ Brixton Academy by Kalpesh Patel on 4th October 2022.