Support Dan Owen has just finished his high energy set with a boisterous and engaging performance of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and you can feel the anticipation in the room for Birdy to take to the stage. As final adjustments are made, the arena is bathed in lavender light with a spotlight highlighting a piano at the stage’s centre.
The venue dims, and the band appears and launch into ‘Growing Pains’ from the recently released Beautiful Lies. The Far Eastern influence of the track is reinforced by Birdy’s appearance on stage, wearing a red kimono-like flowing jacket as she confidently takes her seat at the piano. An evolution from debut album, Birdy, this track, along with many others from the new record, are much more adult in their themes and layer heavier percussion with guitar, bass, and violin. A far cry from the stripped back Birdy we were introduced to in 2011 when she was aged just 14.
As the first track comes to an end, Birdy addresses the audience saying it’s “nice to be home” as she introduces ‘People Help The People’. The next tracks, ‘Hear You Calling’ and ‘Deep End’ are played back to back with little chatter. Both channel a newer more mature Birdy, moulded through new experiences and encounters, but also cement her as both a sensitive songwriter and striking vocalist.
‘Young Blood’, originally by The Naked And Famous is the next track; this rendition a mellower and more relaxed performance, but still the crowd bellow the infamous chorus with childlike enthusiasm. We’re treated to a series of beautiful light shows with ‘Words’, and the current upbeat single ‘Wild Horses’. The whole venue is encapsulated as the Eva Cassidy tones of ‘Lost It All’ also resonates through the room.
The band leaves the stage as Birdy introduces her “favourites from the first album”. The first, ‘Shelter’, brings the room to an intimate silence and is unrecognisable from The XX’s 2009 single (and is arguably an improvement). ‘White Winter Hymnal’ follows but isn’t met with as much concentration. ‘Words As Weapons’ and ‘Give Up’ are then both performed with equal intense devotion and are definite highlights of the evening.
‘Terrible Love’ and the title track of Beautiful Lies are next, but are then outshone by a stunning performance of ‘Take My Heart’, with Birdy stood at a microphone without her piano, and with a Lorde like presence. A similar manifestation can be felt as she performs the upbeat and horrendously catchy ‘Keeping Your Head Up’ before disappearing from the stage.
As the crowd eagerly chants her name, Birdy arrives back on stage and seats herself at the piano once more with the gentle ‘Unbroken’, which she dedicates to her sister; the track beautifully showcasing her faultless vocals. ‘Let It All Go’, originally performed with Burberry favourite RHODES, is well received, with Dan Owen once again taking the stage to assist with the duet. ‘Winter’ is the penultimate piece of the night, but is quickly forgotten as the first chord of Birdy’s instantly classic cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ is played, which immediately makes every hair stand on end and is a perfect end to the evening.
Her haunting vocals and precision make Birdy a stand out of British talent. Despite her success, her vulnerability is still obvious. From thanking the crowd after each applause, to peering at the piano keys from behind the security of long brown hair. Her performance is both uplifting and poignant, and leaves one with the intense desire to hear what she’s going to do next.