I love this time of year. It gets dark early and it makes going to venues like Cafe OTO about ten times cosier and lovely.
Cafe OTO is becoming one of my favourite venues in London. That perhaps is largely because all of the times I’ve been there The Local have been promoting, and they put on wonderful shows.
First on was Steve Abel. His set was enjoyable, my favourite part was for the final song when he invited his friends to sing with him. It was very sweet and lovely. Next was 23 year old Pennyslvanian Damien DeRose, playing under his stage name Peasant. He has a very soft, feminine voice and played some sweet songs on the guitar before moving to the piano for a couple of songs at the end. You can hear his songs here.
Then it was time for the leading lady, the wonderful Laura Gibson. I know I’m onto a winner when I can see an act three times and don’t get bored, and still want to see them again and again. Unfortunately, with some bands, I see them once and think they’re great. Then, by chance, I’ll see them two or three more times and I never want to see them again. But not Laura Gibson!
She opened with an old traditional and went into Come By Storm next. The sound was spot on and it was perfect. Laura takes so much care with each syllable. Really, it doesn’t sound all that different from the record, but there’s something so beautiful about having the person who wrote the songs perform them right there in front of you. And of course, there are tiny little parts that differ from the recordings, that make hearing the songs live such a treat. Funeral Song is my favourite, and hearing the pauses and the way Laura sings I would not wish to be the fire in your belly is so wonderful. I love that song.
Another thing I particularly enjoyed was All The Pretty Horses, an old traditional song that she described as ‘starting like a lullaby then turning into a creepy cowboy song’. I just googled the song and it’s from a Tour Only EP, which I am going to have to hunt down. I also did a little swoon to see Elizabeth Cotten’s Freight Train is one of the songs on the EP. I googled that and found the MP3 on a blog. I listened and my little swoon turned into a MEGASWOON. It has musical saw on it! It’s gorgeous.
Anyway. Back to this show. It was beautiful. There’s something so charming about the simplicity of a performance without a ton of instruments and things added just for the sake of making a fuller sound, especially when the raw material is so perfect, and I think Cafe OTO suits intimate, stripped back performances like this one. Laura mentioned that when she comes back (to play the Luminaire in November) she’ll be with her band. I would definately like to go to that show to see how the songs do sound with more layers. I imagine it will probably be quite beautiful.
She returned to the stage for an encore of This Is Not The End. She played it at End of the Road and got everyone singing along with her, and she did it again at Cafe OTO. Quite a mean feat, considering everyone was so silent for the show, and all seated at tables. Getting people to sing is always a challenge, but clearly everyone was so charmed they couldn’t help but sing with Laura. The room all sang and it was fantastic. What a great show.