Turning a London venue into a old time jazz club
Aimee Phillips
17:42 10th November 2022

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Icelandic-Chinese artist Laufey brought her charming modern jazz to London for an intimate headline show at Lafayette on Tuesday 8th November.

A soundtrack for falling in love, Laufey’s wistful, dreamy and endlessly romantic contemporary jazz is peppered with inflections of pop and bossa nova. It’s enough to make even the most jaded of people fall back in love with life again. 

Laufey’s debut album, Everything I Know About Love, released in August this year, is the perfect record to romanticise your life to. Translated to a live performance, the songs had an almost spellbinding effect; the entire crowd seemed to hold its breath during each song. And Lafayette set the perfect stage for Laufey’s show. The concave nature of the venue created a close and personal feel, as if there were only a few of you in the room.

Beginning the concert with album opener ‘Fragile’, Laufey, who played a cherry red electric guitar, was joined by a cellist, drummer, keyboardist and violinist, the latter of whom she introduced as her twin sister, Junia.

Launching into storytime - which would become a cherished interlude between songs throughout the show - Laufey shared this is her first headline tour, and her second time playing in London, following last year’s performance at the London Jazz Festival. “You’re actually part of a historic moment”, she stated, beaming.

‘Beautiful Stranger’ was in fact inspired during a visit to London when Laufey “Saw a really cute boy on the tube”. She also reveals that ‘Best Friend’, one of the popular tracks from Laufey’s Typical of Me EP (2021), was written for her sister. The track’s humorous opening verse: “I promise that I love you/ Even with that hairdo/ I'm sorry I made fun of it/ It's not your fault it looks like shit, was met with gentle laughs from the audience; a heartwarming theme that recurred throughout the show.

On the rainy day jazz number, ‘Like the Movies’, Laufey opens up about her love for rom-coms as she switches instruments to play the keyboard. “I wrote this song alone at 2am in my feels”, she giggles softly. 

When playing 2020’s debut single ‘Street by Street’, Laufey recounts a time when she was living in Boston and got her heart broken. “I found myself hating the city. Everything reminded me of this boy… I wrote down that I had to ‘take back my city’. Let this be my message to you that you can take something kinda shitty and turn it into something cool… Don’t let anybody take a city away from you”, she affirms, as the crowd hollers in agreement. 

It’s this candid self-expression, both in her lyrics and the tales she tells to explain them, that has doubtless created such a loyal Laufey fan base. Coupled with velvety smooth melodies and full-bodied, soft vocals, the whole gig felt like a warm hug. 

Meandering through each story delicately, Laufey’s headline set came across as relaxed and natural, yet simultaneously tight and seamless. Not a note or pitch out of place, each song cherished all of life’s moments - both big and small.

After the balladic “Let You Break My Heart Again”, an audience member passes Laufey a customised guitar strap from the pit. She accepts it graciously, gushing about the level of detail - the strap is adorned with her favourite album covers.

On album namesake, ‘Everything I Know About Love’, Laufey promises the crowd that “Next time I’ll bring an entire orchestra”. However, halfway through ‘Above The Chinese Restaurant’, she picks up the cello and begins to play it herself. “Surprise! I play the cello”, she chuckles.

More of this playful nature flows throughout the show, as Laufey dons a feather boa for ‘Dance With You Tonight’, and before ‘Dear Soulmate’, she encourages the crowd to “Look around. Maybe your soulmate is somewhere here. You all have excellent taste in music”, she laughs. 

Laufey gently winds through more of the album, treating the crowd to renditions of the swoon-worthy ‘Valentine’ as well as her “diss track”, ‘James’, written after a particularly bad date.

Closing the show is new fan favourite, the bossa nova leaning ‘Falling Behind’. For the encore, Laufey asks the crowd which they want her to sing, and teases that she has a Christmas song coming out on 11th November. In the end, she sings ‘Magnolia’ as the crowd sways side to side.

In these tumultuous, often depressing times, a little bit of romance and magic is the antidote we need. Luckily for us, Laufey is here to administer. 

See the shots from Katie McLellan-Salisbury:

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Photo: Katie McLellan-Salisbury