Words and Image by Craig Strachan
A frosty evening on Womanby street brings in a subdued crowd made quiet by the cold. Holly Humberstone soon expelled such frigidity, the natural warmth of her vocals seemingly bringing this room back to life.
The 21-year-old is embarking on her first headline tour, originally scheduled for pre-Covid but (as with everything) was postponed. If anything that has played to her advantage though, her songs popularity only growing in that time, there was rarely a song Clwb didn’t know the words to.
Her attitude on stage seemed to be perfect for the small venue. Constantly going on little side routes into the origins of her songs, sprinkling anecdotes like you were mates in her kitchen.
“So yeah sound” seemed to punctuate every segway between songs before launching into another melancholic alternative pop pearler. It was sweet and seemed very genuine, thanking everyone for turning up and adding light to the admittedly sad plethora of tracks.
She apologized for sounding bad because she had a cold, yet you wouldn’t be able to tell. She had one of those rare voices that didn’t seem to be a shade different to the recordings from her EPs. Usually restrained, when Holly opened up her vocals in some of the hooks, it was genuinely stunning.
The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for halfway through the set. Holly had been cladded out in a baggy crew neck for the first half, then she said “I have something to show you all” taking it off and revealing a t-shirt with WALES strapping the front. She says she’s part Welsh and that she’d been “waiting to wear this in Cardiff forever”.
Down to earth throughout, she chatted with some people in the front row after a song someone particularly related to. She was promoting her new EP Falling Asleep at the Wheel that was released the day after the gig. The new tracks seemed flawlessly interwoven with her more well known songs and it never felt awkward for her to have to plug the new stuff.
She did the classic ‘this is my last song’ bit, coming off the stage then coming back a second later to play her actual last song “The Walls Are Way Too Thin’. A classic move, she admitted “I have no idea why we always do that” before launching into one of the best pop songs of recent memory. A perfect blend of alternative instrumentation and perfect pop melody. Just the right level of edgy to have genuine original broad appeal.
Out of 10 I’d rate the evening a solid 8, leaving me increasingly excited for whatever Holly Humberstone does next.