Rock City is quickly becoming my favourite venue in the country, and I’ve only seen two gigs there. The reason? The sound quality for a start is fantastic; you can hear every single chord, note and word. The atmosphere is great, it’s not a small venue yet retains a certain level of intimacy. You feel close to, and connected with those around you, and as a result, the artist.
For a venue with the word “Rock” in its title, it works particularly well for the more pop/folky artists. This again comes back to the sound, complete clarity is great for rock gigs but is crucial for singer-songwriter ones.
Last night we saw Gabrielle Aplin there, and if I had to use one word to describe it, it would be magical.
Aplin is a diamond in the rough of the music industry. She writes catchy and memorable songs, yet her biggest asset is quite clearly her voice. That alone is great for a record and acceptable for a live performance but wouldn’t make her worth seeing gig.
What makes gigs worth it is her character. She interacts with the crowd, she clearly enjoy what she does and everything seems genuine. Even when she said “this is the best crowd I’ve ever played to”, a line said by so many people across so many ages of music, it felt more true than before.
I first heard Gabrielle when listening to the radio on a long car journey home. I was captivated by Salvation, and pestered Emma to lend me her album. Her first album is an incredible record, but, in a refreshing change from the norm, her second excels it in every department.
I think that this was summed up during the period of the gig last night immediately after her beautiful Space Oddity tribute to Bowie. Four of the five songs that followed were taken from her second album, and it was the best part of the entire night. It helped that Light Up The Dark, Together, Slip Away and Sweet Nothing are the highlights of the album, and further that the first album song was her first single, Please Don’t Say You Love Me, but it highlights the strength and improvement of her second release. That section of five songs is one of my favourite passages of a gig of all time.
From what I gather, Gabrielle Aplin tours with people she knows. She’s close friends with Hudson Taylor, and they usually support her – they didn’t due to an injury. Instead she called in Lewis Watson, who talks to them all on twitter. Hannah Grace also supported her, and then later became Gabrielle’s backing vocalist. She has her own record label, which Nottingham artist Saint Raymond is signed to, and he joined her on stage to perform his song to open the encore. She promotes unsigned, unknown or small artists through her own fame.
With a beautiful voice, a talent for writing songs, a stage presence and the aforementioned promotion of other artists, it’s impossible not to like Gabrielle Aplin.
She didn’t want the gig to end, a view most likely shared by everyone packed into Rock City to see her.
Gabrielle Aplin played (plus a cover of a Saint Raymond song before Salvation):