Beautifully brave moves from one of music's best poets
Lucy Harbron
16:01 29th March 2022

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It feels like the only way to describe Lucy Dacus at O2 Kentish Town Forum is brave. It's an odd description of a heavily acoustic night, set on a stage full of several guitars and Lucy emerging in a full gown, but the softness of her work suddenly becomes bold in a room like that. And Lucy never shies away from making it so.

It’s brave to step onto stage and immediately go into one of your longest and slowest songs, but thats what she did. Beginning with the nearly eight-minute long Triple Dog dare, the slow-build narrative track had the whole crowd shocked into silence. Only inviting a sing along in the final moments, the crowd erupted into applause the second silence fell. It’s daring, but the attention of the crowd and the respectful hush proves the dedication. Back after years, Lucy’s first UK show since 2019 is a moment for so many.

From start to finish the crowd follows her lead. Lucy wants everyone to wear masks, and the room is full of them. Lucy wants silence, everyone hushes. But when Lucy wants a rockstar moment, the crowd happily obliges, screaming back the words of ‘Addictions’ as she switches to electric guitar.

With an audience this loyal, fan favourites come boiling to the surface. Album tracks like ‘Yours & Mine’ cause a mass sing along, and ‘Hot and heavy’ suddenly becomes huge as the crowd overpower her voice. Supported by a small but tight band, the perfected instrumentation allows the crowd to fully invest, swaying along to a quality that never drops even when the audience seems to take lead.

Long before stepping onto stage, Lucy Dacus’ bravery seems to begin way back in the songwriting process. More than a singer and more than a musician, Lucy Dacus is a writer. Ending whenever they end with free-flowing lines and heavy narrative focus, her songs are more poems than indie-folk tunes. Reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, the ability to merge poetry and music and create a result that's still somehow catchy and makes an audience move is a skill I can't overstate. 

But it's not all art and silence, the show was fun. Between songs, Lucy steps into the role of an effortlessly charming host. Making the crowd laugh with ease, the night passed in a breeze, sending us home with sore cheeks from smiling - an odd memento from a show that features so many songs about death, religious trauma and bad dads. But seemingly having learnt the perfect balance between softness and rock, the bouncing back and forth between softer Home Video tracks and anthemic off-cuts from Historian is seamless and cheery.

A highlight came during the album track ‘Partner In Crime’. Swaying around the stage like a 60s starlet and singing into an auto-tune effected mic, the merge of the experimental sound and her classic beauty composure and delivery is a captivating combo. The room sways with her as the chorus kicks in, and I left with a new favourite song on the album.

Of course rounding off with 'Night Shift', the massive track has the whole audience stepping up from a sing along to a scream along. You can see a laugh escape Lucy’s mouth as awe takes over, finally seeing the product of three years of hard work as she returns to the country. As the whole band crashes through the finale of the song, we would have all been content if it ended there, sending us home on a high, but Lucy isn’t content with the expected. 

Returning for an unexpected encore of her Springsteen ‘Dancing In The Dark’ cover, there was a moment of worry that she was about to dampen the bang we thought we’d go out on. But as she shoos her band away and stands solo on the stage, the feeling dissipates into one of privileged excitement. Before its release, ‘Thumbs’ was once an unnamed debut played to crowds just like this, and she wants to continue the tradition. Making us all promise to not film, the show ends with a pact and we’re all initiated into some special club. A club that understands her bravery, respects her talent, loves her work.

I buy a t-shirt on the way out to make it official, and leave more in love with her than ever.

See photos of the night by Katie McLellan-Salisbury below:

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Photo: Katie McLellan-Salisbury