Kent born singer-songwriter and X Factor finalist Lucy Spraggan hit Stirling’s Tolbooth on September 27 and as expected her quirky acoustic stylings were no let down.
The night was opened by Roseanne Reid, daughter of Craig Reid from Scottish superstar duo, The Proclaimers.
Despite the blood relation, Roseanne in no way tried to mimic her father’s style or use her link to music royalty to win herself points.
With just her voice and guitar, Roseanne’s slow acoustic folk style worked perfectly in the intimate venue.
Her beautifully written song ‘Amy‘, discussing what it was like falling in love with a girl (not, in fact, called Amy) in her college days, stood out as her best and had the whole room swaying along with her voice.
Roseanne seemed like an incredible choice to open for an artist like Lucy Spraggan, her performance was simple and stripped back, giving the audience a chance to take in the words being spoken, something I feel is essential when you’re about to listen to some of Spraggan’s songs.
It was then time for the woman herself. Without an ounce of false-showmanship or narcissism, on she walked in a flannel with guitar in hand (if you don’t understand why the inclusion of flannel was important for the article you are sadly not Lucy Spraggan’s main demographic).
After quite a bit of back and forth with the crowd, Spraggan herself teasing that she could do this all night if people wanted but she thought they might want to hear some music at some point, she proceeded to open with one of my personal favourites, ‘Lighthouse’.
Within the first few lines, the whole crowd was singing each word with her. Creating one of the most unified and calm atmospheres I’ve experienced at a gig.
She then continued to work her way through new material, crowd favourites and some of her very early stuff most of the crowd had never heard.
However each song was met with the same response, adoration and support.
At a gig like this with an artist I personally hold very dear, it is hard to choose favourite moments as the whole evening was simply beautiful to experience.
But I’ve tried to focus on the four moments (sorry Editors) that had me most moved or entertained during the performance.
There was no way that ‘Last Night’, a song about the perks and drawbacks of “gettin’ a bit steaming”, wasn’t going to be one of the best moments of the night.
It was this song that had me originally falling in love with Spraggan as an artist – yes, this was her audition for X Factor – yes I used to watch X Factor – let’s move on from that fact please.
She proceeded her performance of ‘Last Night‘ by speaking directly to the 10-year-old in the front row, making this little girl promise not to drink alcohol ’til at least the ripe old age of 30.
This of course had the audience wooping and ready to sing along.
The give and take between Spraggan and the audience during this song was beautiful to see, Spraggan giving almost every composite line to the audience to sing back to her.
The song is catchy, hilariously well written and rings far too true for a student who loves a night out a bit too much.
The next moment that I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear to was during ‘Don’t Know Nothing About The Blues’, a song written as a response to a heckler in a blues club who criticised her non-bluesy-ness given the venue.
The song is clever, being both a parody of blues as a genre and an acoustic blues song itself. The song and Spraggan’s monologue throughout about this heckler made the audience reach a strange place of hysterically laughing and cheering.
This was a song I had never heard before from her but will definitely be one I return to from now on after the fun energetic performance.
Possibly my favourite song by Spraggan is ‘Tea and Toast‘. While busking on the street in her early career, an old couple were walking by holding hands. The old woman collapsed a few feet from Spraggan and she immediately stopped playing and called an ambulance and helped support the old woman as she lay on the ground.
‘Tea and Toast’ was inspired by the fact that throughout this whole event of the old woman collapsing the old man she was with would not let go of her hand, even when paramedics arrived and even when they moved her to the ambulance. He simply wouldn’t let her go.
The song explores the notion of finding a person that you simply can’t bear to think about an existence without them in your life.
I don’t want to give too much away about the song itself as it tells a harrowingly emotional story, but seeing this track I’ve been listening to for years performed live brought me to tears for the first of two times during the gig.
The second time I was brought to tears was at the climax of one of her most recent songs ‘Dear You’.
‘Dear You’ explores mental health and the idea of speaking up about personal struggles before it’s too late, which Spraggan spoke very personally about before diving into the heartbreaking song.
I had listened to the song a few days prior to the show and knew how its narrative progression ended so felt ready to deal with the emotional punch about to hit me in the chest, yet seeing Spraggan deliver the song with such true conviction by the time the last few chords of the song sounded I was simply a teary mess.
This is what I remember vividly when I think of the show as a whole. A room of people wiping their eyes as they try to recompose themselves and applaud at the same time.
Since the night of the show I have’t been able to re-visit ‘Dear You‘ as I am simply afraid it will take me back to my broken emotional state at that moment.
Despite some of her more heartstring-pulling songs, the show was generally a very lively one.
The simplicity of her acoustic guitar and her voice made the gig intimate yet her banter and rapport with the crowd made it so very fun.
I would describe different artists I’ve seen live as energetic, soulful, powerful and beautiful on stage and even as born performers.
But none of them can be paralleled by Lucy Spraggan in how much fun she seems to have on stage.
You are constantly reminded that she loves what she does, not because of the size of the crowd or the size of the venue or the size of the paycheck, but she loves it instead because of the enjoyment she gets from joking around and generally being fun with the audience.
Lucy Spraggan at the Tolbooth is not a gig I will soon forget.