When Rough Trade Records opened a store in Nottingham earlier this year, the city knew they would be treated to a wealth of new artists arriving to showcase their talent. And tonight is no exception. Although the venue is small, there is an enthusiastic crowd gathering to greet Lonelady (aka Julie Campbell) tonight. And she doesn’t disappoint.
Launching straight in with ‘Into the Cave’, she’s an enigmatic presence, casting a head-bobbing shadow against the back wall, which is currently showing footage of a cluster of storage units; a fitting connection to the urban-esque feeling of new album Hinterland. The stage is a little on the cramped side, but Lonelady does what she can, releasing wave after wave of slick guitar groove and epic, synthetic drum beats. Talk is kept to a minimum, but that’s fine, tonight the music does the talking. The crowd’s excitement peaks at new single ‘Bunkerpop’, becoming a dancing mass, as the playful guitar rhythm echoes around the room. ‘Nerve Up’, the only song to be played from her debut album of the same name, and ‘Silvering’ are also greeted wholeheartedly, but it is mid-set song ‘(I Can See) Landscapes’ that receives the loudest applause. If someone was to take a moment to observe the room, they’d find a crowd unable to stop themselves from dancing, either self-consciously or otherwise. The scent of cider and food spills into the air. Lonelady stands on the stage, amongst the drums and tangles of cable, holding her guitar, head tilted to one side. But it’s her expression that really speaks volumes. Her eyes are full of emotion, a curious blend of confidence and vulnerability that infuses her music with a haunting passion that lingers in-between songs.
Final song ‘Hinterland’ is, without doubt, a firm closing song. The last few bars are mesmerising, it sounds like the guitar itself is trying to speak, and Lonelady’s wavering voice echoes out into the emptying room. For tonight at least, the music follows the crowd into the street, and you’re under the impression that they all might just be dancing home.
By Kelly Beestone