Live Zone

Holly Humberstone, 02 Academy Leicester, 12th March 2024



Not many singer songwriters can play a large venue such as the close to full 1450 capacity 02 Academy Leicester, and make it feel like they are singing their songs just for you.

An intimate affair like when they were sat in their bedroom trying new songs at the start of their career to mates. Holly Humberstone can. Holly did just that last night.

Three gigs to go after tonight on her current “This Feels Like The Truman Show” tour, with London, Bristol and Dublin left before heading off to the US, and then back this way for summer festivals.

The Grantham, Lincolnshire-born artist delivered 20 songs, including the two-song encore in her 90-minute set. Support was from Medium Build, a duo from Alaska, their first trip over here.

Holly’s name in white within a big spider’s web on the backdrop on stage, lit up in different colours for each song. Many had travelled a long way to see her in concert tonight, including those who have seen her on other gigs on this tour and on previous tours, and knew every word to every song.

Holly showing off her large collection of guitars, playing many different ones during her set; joined by her three-piece band of bass/keyboards, drums and guitar. A solid unit.

Good news: Holly announced she has a new EP on its way: and how the idea came from revisiting song ideas she had half worked on and had kept stored on her phone. How on a fresh listen she realised how much she actually liked them, and decided to put together an EP.  That EP, “Work In Progress” is out this Friday, 15th March.

The set opened with the title track from her current album, “Paint My Bedroom Black”, started by the band before Holly comes on stage to join in and grab the spotlight as she deserves to.

Then comes “Into Your Room” and title track of her second EP “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”, before “Overkill”, “Vanilla” and “Kissing In Swimming Pools”, and then Holly brings on support act Medium Build’s singer to join her on the song “Cocoon”.

The latest single, “Dive” was next, a track from her imminent EP. “Deep End” she says is an emotional personal story about one of her family’s mental health issues and her anxiety about how to help them.

24-year-old Holly doesn’t shy away from digging deep into her own life stories and of those close to her. She opens up to her fans here a few times between songs about her writing and about this tour. She has a quiet, warm and endearing quality and low key stage presence about her. She, like her lyrics, really does connect on an emotional level in her songs and with her fans.

The first time I heard her a few years ago, I was mesmerised and wanted to find out all about Holly the artist and hear everything she had released. But the moment I heard the song “Scarlett”, I was hooked. That for me is one of the  best songs of my lifetime. It is indelibly etched on my brain and I have to hear it often. Musical OCD? Who cares.

I adore that song and she made me wait until the last song of the set. It was magical. The lyrics and her vocal phrasing. Scarlett was written for her best friend, about a toxic relationship. Through late night conversations and the power of female friendship, Holly helped Scarlett through the breakup. The official video shows Holly and Scarlett stealing a truck from an airport hanger and driving off into the sunset, “free.”

In one of her between songs chats, Holly mentions how uneasy she felt moving from Grantham to London for University, and how that isolation inspired several “sad” songs she wrote, including “London is Lonely”, which she played piano on tonight.

After “Antichrist” and “Lauren”, Holly treats us to probably her most popular  song online, streamed more than any others of hers, “Asleep At The Wheel”, Holly’s critically acclaimed debut which helped her notch up at least 150m streams.

“Elvis Impersonators” was preceded by Holly saying how much she missed her sister who lives in Japan. She went to visit her there and wrote this song reminiscing of the time when they met a bunch of guys dressed as Elvis, in an elevator.

She did not do “Please Don’t Leave Just Yet”, the lovely collaboration with Matty Healy, frontman of one of Holly’s favourite bands, The 1975. Four more in the main set, the last of which is “Ghost Me”, which has a serous message about anti-social media at its core.

Then the brace of encore songs;  a broken relationship tale in “Friendly Fire”, which Holly starts off on her own, before the band return to the stage to join in on. To close, the afore mentioned absolutely wonderful “Scarlett”. I think I had something in my eye during this song!

I did not want it to end. But it did. Then Ms Humberstone gave her thanks to the Leicester fans, and off she went. So did we. More, more, more and soon. I am so in need of another Hollyday…

  • [Full set list at bottom of the page…]


Photos: Andrea Bottino

Words: Les Howard



Set List

Paint My Bedroom Black
Into Your Room
The Walls Are Way Too Thin
Kissing in Swimming Pools
(with Medium Build)
Deep End
London Is Lonely
Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Elvis Impersonators
Sleep Tight
Ghost Me
Friendly Fire



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