Live Review: Fenne Lily, Grace Lightman & Orla Gartland - Moth Club, London 10/04/2018

We caught Fenne Lily live at Hackney's Moth Club on the London leg of her album release tour, with support from her friends Orla Gartland and Grace Lightman.

For those who have never frequented the backroom of Hackney's Moth Club, it's a peculiar venue which pairs vintage dance hall d├ęcor and retro booths with military memorabilia, while sporting a refurbished, gold-glittering ceiling. The venue comes with a huge air of intimacy, which makes it home to some of the most memorable gigs. The performers have nowhere to hide, nor do the audience should there be a reason for a poor turn out. Unsurprisingly, Fenne Lily and her support acts did not need to worry about turn out numbers this evening.

Dublin's Orla Gartland opened the evening with, 'Stranger' pulling the crowd into her expressive and hooky guitar pop sound as well as her kooky, natural personality as she brought a whole lot of warmth and silliness in between songs. Overall, Orla had the crowd roaring with laughter as she performed half  a music set, half a comedy set, invited a couple of her musician friends to sing with her, (including Greta Isaac to perform their song 'Braindead') and saw the venue buzzing with positive energy despite some of the sadder songs on her setlist.

Next up was Grace Lightman  and her keys player with their unique blend of psych-infused, soulful alt pop. Bathed in orange and blue lights, the allure and quirk to Grace Lightman's interpretative stage presence was instantly captivating as both her sound and the way she held herself fell somewhere between sophistication and melancholy, but when she smiles, you feel it.  There's a trippy feel to her music, which is suited for a futuristic jazz club somewhere in outer space. Her set list included 'Repair Repair' and  'Faultless' which are a great example of the old school yet extraterrestrial influences in her music. 'Fangs' showed the darker, more thrilling side to her sound, and her set was elegant yet pleasantly unusual in its entirety.

By the time Fenne Lily and her band took to the stage, the crowd were more than excited and there was very little room to move for the sheer mass of people. Opening track 'What's Good' instantly showed us all that Fenne Lily is one of those flawless performers who is just as exceptional live, as on the record.

Like Orla, Fenne finds it important to keep up a repartee with her audience. Her witticisms between songs ranged from self deprecating to innocent, to ironic to outrageous and the crowd laughed boldly along with each titbit, hanging on every word... Except during 'The Hand You Deal' when a handful of annoying people decided to talk really loudly amongst themselves. Fenne responded by effortlessly added an impromptu "SHH!" into the song and for me, this was much appreciated!

About five songs in Fenne admitted to feeling slightly overwhelmed and that she had been avoiding looking into the crowd properly because she didn't want to know if there was many or few people in front of her, before humbly expressing gratitude and disbelief that there were many. Along with the whole album, Fenne  also played a cover of Angel Olsen's 'Unfuck The World' and a newly written song.

'On Hold' is an album overflowing with warm, rich, melancholy that deserves to be a part of your record collection, but also begs to be heard live and longs for its emotion, gentleness and beauty to linger in the air. From originally having no plans to make an album, to independently releasing her album and packing out venues up and down the country, it seems Fenne is still wrapping her head around the attention and success she is receiving and understandably so. However, it's more than deserved and we can't begin to imagine how many more people will be saying her name by the time this year is out alone.

Words by Karla Harris 
Photography by Ant Adams