Gabrielle Aplin @ Village Underground
English singer-songwriter and musician Gabrielle Aplin built up a fan base the new-fashioned way, by posting acoustic covers of hit songs from the likes of Katy Perry and Cee Lo Green on her YouTube channel. She was thrown into the limelight after her cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love was used for the 2012 John Lewis Christmas television commercial. The then 20-year-old followed through with the release of well-received debut album English Rain the following April.
Aplin is back with her second studio record Light Up The Dark and played a show at the Village Underground venue in London’s Shoreditch as part of a mini UK headline tour following its release, the album having entered the UK album charts in the top 20 last week.
Appearing on stage in a bare-shouldered gold dress, she opened with moody sophomore album title track Light Up The Dark followed by What Did You Do also from the new release, the sound of the delicate-voiced singer and her extensive band a perfect fit for the quirky East London venue.
“Has anyone got my new album?” The Wiltshire native asked of an adoring crowd that had snapped up tickets to the small, sold-out show in minutes. “I’m going to play some songs from that” she said, grinning through the cheers as she dipped into soulful new track Fools Love.
Moving swiftly through her 16-song set, Aplin said: “I was really lucky when writing Light Up The Dark. I got to write this next one with Lisa Hannigan, she’s one of my favourite songwriters”, introducing Country-tinged song Coming Home, which she played flaked by dual violins.
Indicating she was picking an older song next, the Brighton-based singer addressed her audience: “For this next song, if I ask you to sing along, I want you to scream it!” The enamoured crowd obliged, as Aplin and her band broke into upbeat debut album song Please Don’t Say You Love Me, the 22-year-old stepping away from her mic during a later chorus allowing the crowd to take over vocal duties.
“By the way, I’m so nervous” the shy singer confessed to the crowd. I burped all the way through a song the other day! I promise not to burp.” Putting the guitar down, Aplin took up position behind a keyboard, replacing Harry Hudson-Taylor, for melancholy new track A While, a squeaky backstage door making itself heard over the delicate song.
Moving back to centre-stage, upbeat pop-driven Sweet Nothing was next, demonstrating the diversity across the new record. “I think this is the most beautiful venue I’ve played in London” Aplin said, basking in the splendour of the repurposed Victorian rail viaduct housing the venue, it’s bare brick arches providing a unique environment for live music.
Giving away the game of her encore appearance the singer told the crowd “So this is it, the last song, you know! We’re going to go off and come back on. This is called Slip Away.” The funk-driven track allowing the coy singer to dash off stage while her band rounded off the track.
Emerging back into the grand hall with just keyboardist Harry Hudson-Taylor, the pair eased into House We Never Built from the deluxe version of Light Up The Dark before being joined by the rest of the band, including Aplin’s boyfriend and the other half of Irish rock-folk sibling duo Hudson Taylor, Alfie, for English Rain’s Home to close the night.
It’s clear to see the progression in Gabrielle Aplin’s music from the softly-softly piano and acoustic guitar-driven English Rain to Light Up The Dark’s diverse funk, blues, country and pop-influenced make-up. Apiln will be embarking on a larger, more extensive tour following this mini tour from next January including a stop at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on February 8th.
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Live Review and Photography by Kalpesh Patel. Kalpesh has his own great photo site right here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate/
Gabrielle Aplin @ Village Underground 30th September 2015.