It’s Sunday night and I’m venturing to The Windmill in Brixton, a well known backstreet gig venue which is closely guarded by its rooftop patrolling dogs. Don’t let this put you off, The Windmill is a great place. It welcomes you with a lingering smell of beer and rose coloured toilet walls covered in enlightening graffiti – ‘I’m pink therefore I’m spam’. Dark and dingy, it’s the perfect venue for an intimate gig.
There are several bands on the line up tonight headlined by Liz Lawrence. I arrive in time to catch Cat Bear Tree whose EP is due for release in August. A pop punk trio, who give an enjoyably energetic and soulful performance.
Liz Lawrence starts her set with ‘Bedroom Hero’ the title track of her debut album. Eyes closed, she strums her acoustic guitar accompanied by Harry on the Cajón (a box-shaped percussion instrument). The first thing that strikes you about Liz is her voice, it’s her instrument and she plays it with skill.
Liz Lawrence is a Midland born singer-songwriter who is now based in London. Amongst many she has supported Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka and Ani Difranco, who described Liz as “a beautiful artist who lives on the edge”. She has attracted a loyal fan base, many of whom she met on her house tour earlier this year in January. When interviewed back in 2012, Liz defined her music as “bittersweet, romantic, melodic, honest, homemade and sentimental”. Later on this month she will be playing as James Morrison’s support in Austria.
Tonight under the peeling ceilings and exposed wiring there are mums doing the two step, locals who popped in for a pint and dedicated Lawrence fans who know every word, every beat and every strum. Dressed stylishly in a grey coat, white shirt and black skinny jeans, Lawrence stamps about the stage, shoe shuffling and leg swaying.
Lawrence’s intonation and pronunciation of lyrics such as ‘Dandy-lion’ during ‘Oo Song’, not only open up a world of lyrical possibility but add to her unique spellbinding performance.
Her third song, ‘I’d Rather’ sees Liz moving about the stage once more, raising her heels and knocking her knees. Next up is ‘Don’t You Dare’ which was inspired by her want to write a Motown song. It’s a soulful piece performed with perfect strumming, accompanied by Liz’s chocolate rich husky vocals.
As Liz breaks into ‘Monday Morning’, two fans in front of me simultaneously whisper to each other “this is my favourite”, they know every word and sing along with the big brown eyed soloist on stage. Liz Lawrence is one of the most earnest singers I have seen in a long time, she loves what she is doing and it radiates through her performance.
Her next song ‘When I Was Younger’, was recently used in TV show Vampire Diaries during a “harrowing vampire graduation” but is actually about her mum. Liz ends her set with ‘One Day’, a catchy tune which gets the crowd clapping and toe tapping. As she finishes there are shouts of “More!” and even the local snoozer who was propping up the bar has woken up.
This girl deserved a bigger crowd than there was tonight, but the ones who are here she has drawn in, mesmerised and hooked, including the sound man in the corner who couldn’t take his eyes off her. A faultless performance.