Sea Lion (aka Linn Osterberg) performed to a small, but appreciative crowd last night at The Islington. Against a backdrop of red velvet curtains, the Swedish singer used her guitar to create waves of electric ambience – initially with her back to the audience, before turning to face the microphone and reveal her delicate, pensive voice.
Osterberg carefully completes her opening song, before realising her set-list has mysteriously disappeared. She shakes off the blip, and improvises her way through the rest of her tracks, making casual and humorous throwbacks to the list’s absence throughout the set, asking the person who stole it to “just read out the next song for me, please?”
Recorded, Sea Lion’s music is melancholy and, at times, a little heavy on the heart-strings/tear ducts; but live it is stirring, moody and powerful. She performs with a mixture of confidence and modesty, easily holding the attention of the of the crowd. Occasionally, this attention is too intense and – after one photographer keeps capturing her at close range with a blinding flash – she asks/warns: “Surely you have enough photos by now?” The crowd laughs, the photographer holds his hands up in apology, and retreats from the front row.
The flashes of the bulbs and the sounds of the busy London roads outside do not deter Osterberg from delivering a focused, atmospheric set. What does break the enchantment a little in between songs are technical realities. Referring to the close proximity of her guitar stand, and crossed wires, she jokes: “Who set up this death-trap?”, prompting the sound technician to guiltily raise his hand. Whilst attending to her pedal-board towards the close of her set, Osterberg notices an unplugged wire: “Shit, have I been playing without infinite reverb?” she asks, shocked. The crowd laughs, and encourage her to start the set from the beginning to atone for the error.
Sea Lion is a strong, courteous, kind performer; and she’s rewarded with cheers and applause at the end of her performance. “This is my first gig with my picture on the posters” she smiles – and, after last night’s performance, it won’t be her last.
Sea Lion’s debut album Desolate Stars will be released in August later this year, and her EP Big Moon is available to stream now. Catch her before she’s swept away on the waves of serious success.
(Support came from Adam Cleaver, who performed a charming acoustic set.)