REVIEW: Gabrielle Aplin, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin treated her audience to a display of vocal excellence at a surprisingly sparsely-attended O2 Academy.

The Wiltshire singer-songwriter was mesmerising, impressing with both the twee solo numbers of her debut album English Rain and the more sprightly soulful pop of new work Light Up The Dark.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Her name-making cover of The Power of Love - as featured in the 2012 John Lewis Christmas advert - didn't feature at all, though she covered David Bowie's Space Oddity in a very similar style.

The interactions between songs were sweet and humble, and although the support acts were mostly uninspiring, the show as a whole was good value - though it's a shame there weren't more people there to see it.

Irish folk duo Hudson Taylor were originally scheduled as support for the tour, but withdrew due to a skiing accident, leaving up-and-coming singer Lewis Watson to join Hannah Grace and Soham De on the bill.

Lewis himself performed a solid acoustic set, managing to charm the audience and his own audible contingent of fans thanks to a sharp sense of humour, although some of the music lacked punch.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Still, he will be worth watching and - with some 80,000 followers on Twitter already - is bound to reach impressive heights in the years to come.

Hannah Grace's set was green, although she does possess a stirring voice, while Soham De laboured through a poor Ed Sheeran cover and was, as a whole, dreary.

Gabrielle Aplin first came to widespread notice in 2012 thanks to her celebrated performance of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's ballad The Power of Love, setting the stage for countless copy-cats of its stripped-back style.

It topped the singles chart thanks to its use in the John Lewis festive commercial, and helped her debut album English Rain to sell more than 100,000 copies.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Since then, she has slipped from the public consciousness slightly, and her latest album Light Up The Dark failed to spawn the same level of attention as her first, spawning no hit singles.

This is despite it being the stronger work - offering a greater variety of musical styles rather than typecasting her as a girl with a piano or a guitar.

That said, those in attendance no doubt enjoyed the additional space, and it was a well-behaved, predominantly feminine crowd that experienced the show.

It was an impressive spectacle to experience, too, as Gabrielle's beautiful vocals are quite majestic in the flesh, and she seems unmolested by ego when she speaks.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

One call-out from a fan during Please Don't Say You Love Me led to her giggling during the song, while she marvelled excitably at the new cup holder on her microphone stand.

The set notably included the Bowie tribute Space Oddity, although the highlight was jaunty album title track Light Up the Dark, and the best moments reserved for her collaboration with the faultless live band.

Closing her main set with the upbeat pop of Sweet Nothing, she returned for an encore - during which she cited the evening as one of her favourite performances ever - to play the sombre Salvation at the piano.

Closing with her signature track, Home, she sent everyone home happy, and earned her ovation with its breath-taking a capella climax which demonstrated just what a talent she is.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Gabrielle Aplin performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Lewis Watson performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Lewis Watson performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.