Bubble gum pop and “slacker rock” artist Lauran Hibberd was joined by hand-picked support acts Spyres and Abbie Ozard last night at the Bodega, Nottingham for the third of five UK tour dates.
Quirky Isle of Wight-based singer songwriter Lauran promoting her current release, “Everything is Dogs” EP, which dropped late last year.
For Glasgow band Spyres, this was their first trip to Nottingham and this tour is actually their first foray outside of Scotland.
The band only got together at the start of last year, following an acoustic project originally started by vocalists and guitarists Keria McGuire and Emily Downie.
Joined by bassist Jude Curran and drummer Alex White, they delivered a neat half hour set of rambunctious indie rock – lots of heavy guitar parts and multi-layered vocals.
Their first two singles “Otherside” and “Fake ID” were the songs that stood out the most in their tight set.
For a relatively new band, and no touring experience before this one, they showed a lot of promise, and deserve that well-worn phrase “ones to watch”. They were and they are!
Abbie Ozard was the middle course on the menu tonight. Manchester artist, delivering mellow and dreamy pop material, backed by drums, bass and guitar – Abbie also on guitar.
She is a class act. Which is why this very magazine tipped her for success in our “Best Of 2019” round-up last December. She began releasing her own music in 2018 with the BBC6 Music and BBC Introducing supported single “Average Disguise”.
She then signed to Liverpool label Modern Sky UK and released a cover of East 17’s “Stay Another Day”, picked up by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens.
I’d use the word “uplifting” to sum up her set and her songs. This was very much the case for tracks like the title track to the EP that dropped last September, “Growing Pains”, her opening song, “Numb” and “Heartbreak Radio”.
She gave us a superb rendition of her new single “Crocodile Tears”, which dropped a couple of weeks ago, and she aired some strong new material.
Abbie’s second visit to perform in Nottingham in five months, after she supported the band Whenyoung last year. A debut album is imminent, and this writer predicts a near-future trip to the city may well be as a headliner in her own right. She will have earned it. She opens for Zuzu’s March tour.
Headliner 22-year-old Lauran Hibberd has had a heady time of it this last year or so. She plays the famed SXSW Festival in Texas in March this year, and is being shown some love from the likes of Radio 1 taste-makers Huw Stephens, Annie Mac and Jack Saunders. She also made the most of a Glastonbury “Introducing” spot too.
Lauran Hibberd introduced her opener “Sugardaddy”, (opening chords sounding like a Blondie track!) by asking who in the crowd was skint – offering a solution to any fiscal embarrassment with the sentiment in this song.
She gave us a mixed bag of material, taken from her sole EP “Everything Is Dogs“, plus her singles and some new stuff, in a set that sat in indie and pop rock territory.
Airing two songs for the first time, on this tour, “We Could Be Married” and “Old Nudes”, the latter she revealed will be the next single.
The biggest moments came with her performance of the relentlessly energetic current single, “Bang Bang Bang”, which has a fun and clever video to support it, that can be seen below.
Shot using ‘green screen’ in a garage on the Isle of Wight, it sees Lauran playing all the parts herself. Looking more like a top end, big budget production than a DIY job.
Fun factoid about Lauran: She used to live next door to a “dinosaur farm” on the I.O.W. and says that is perhaps where her “weirdness” comes from. Not a sentence I thought I’d ever be writing!
She’s got her own thing going on for sure, a very commercial pop sound with heaps of attitude and fun (she does like sticking her tongue out a lot!), but you can perhaps hear the subtle nods to some of her influences such as Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Phoebe Bridgers, Soccer Mommy and Courtney Barnett.
The song that most recognised tonight, “Call Shotgun”, has notched up more than one million streams. So, for this 220-capacity venue to be at least 50 bodies below sold out tonight, was surprising to me, with Lauran’s profile and her music’s reach. The first date in Southampton and the last date, at the Camden Assembly in London, have sold out on this tour.
I think Lauran is an excellent songwriter and an artist who has huge potential, and just needs that big break and that one dynamite song to blast out of the radio and send her career into orbit.
But despite a solid performance tonight, for me, I just felt there was something missing. Cannot quite put my finger on what though… Maybe the audience felt kind of subdued, like they were waiting for the set to go places that it just didn’t go.
Maybe they wanted a wee bit more from Lauran (on guitar and lead vocals) and her band – Ellis Durand on bass, Chris Newnham on guitar and Max Perry on drums – in terms of energy and personal connection. Also, the gaps and silence between songs felt awkward at times.
When Lauran and her band left the stage at the end of the set, they returned for only a one-song encore, but there were no shouts for more for any encore and some of the audience were already leaving. Unusual for gigs I go to. Maybe travelling in the bad weather and it being a weeknight, had a bearing on how everyone was feeling in the room, on and off stage.
She is back on the road in April with The Academic, and in demand for festivals in the coming months, including Neighbourhood Weekender, Tramlines and Kendall Calling. There are plans for a second EP this year, and maybe her debut album will see the light of day in 2020.
Lauran Hibberd is a rising star who could be far too big to play The Bodega in a couple of years time, if she gets that big break.
- The current tour calls in to Manchester tonight (19th Feb) and London on the 20th.
Words & Photos: Andrea Bottino
“What Do Girls Want?”
“Hunny Is This What Adults Do?”
“We Could Be Married”
“Bang Bang Bang”
“You Never Looked So Cool”
Encore: “Shark Week”