As I stand among the sold out crowd awaiting the arrival of Lucy Dacus, I hear a polite voice behind me saying ‘excuse me’. I apologise, move out of the way and see Lucy herself cradling a cup of tea as she walks past me onto the stage. She steps up to the mic and says ‘Shall we’, her quietly unassuming stage presence only adding to the appeal of this very special young artist.
Opener Liz Lawrence began the evening with some angular and interesting indie rock. Often when I see a computer on stage my heart sinks but in this case I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable and direct her songs were. Perhaps such a British style of indie was an odd choice to go alongside Dacus but Lawrence’s music had a similarly honest way of addressing modern life.
Dacus is in the middle of a European tour that took her to Primavera sound, among other stops and so she is suffering somewhat from a sore throat as a result. She sips from her tea and asks us not to film the first song, a new one which she is still perfecting. The crowd are as thoughtful as the artist, with those down the front much more interested in listening rather than filming, which is refreshing.
Songs from her Historian album like Addictions and Non-Believer sound fantastic, her excellent band spinning them out with suitable force. The Shell is a welcome reminder not to let the struggles of modern life consume you – not everyone needs to be a creator or a leader. The ideas of that song were thoughtfully explored in her recent interview with the Creative Independent.
Before ‘Yours and Mine’ she apologies for America, even though it feels like us British need to do just the same. We’re all in it together, shaking our heads at the state of the world. A cover of La Vie En Rose might sound on paper like a little too ‘A Star is Born’ but in Dacus’ capable hands the song transforms into a jangly little indie pop wonder.
Her recent singe release My Mother and I is a song so candid and honest it is hard to hear it without feeling emotional. Dacus’ ability to dissect human relationships and turn then into great songs is breathtaking.
Of course this all leads up to her performance of Night Shift, where her intelligent lyricism and use of subtly innovative structures coalesce into a song that is as damn near perfection as it gets. Due to her throat the crowd is required to give her an extra helping hand with the high notes, and they more than deliver with a singalong that felt cathartic and beautiful.
The only problem, as such, is how to follow such a moment. Dacus decides to relieve the pressure by closing the set with a new song and gives us the choice of three. The crowd choose the one she wrote on that day, which she plays acoustic (after some amusing rearranging of her stage setup). The song feels like a special secret just between us and Dacus, a reward for us sharing our Tuesday night with her. Just like the whole evening, it was a total privilege from start to finish.