Klara, Clare Maguire @ The Lantern, Bristol, 04/10/2016

clare maguireSince bursting onto the scene in 2010 as the subject of a high profile, multi-label bidding war, Claire Maguire’s career has stumbled somewhat, with the intervening years taking in a split from her label and a stint in rehab.

Yet with her personal troubles now in the past and after several years of tentative online demos, collaborations and four EPs, 2016 has seen the Solihull native return emphatically with an encouraging second album and tour across the UK, accompanied by Swedish starlet Klara.

In the intimate surrounds of The Lantern, tucked away on the second floor of Colston Hall, the opening act begins proceedings with an enchanting collection of tracks that seen to slide across genres with ease. Klara’s musical range is particularly impressive, combining gothic soundscapes with layers of synth and haunting vocals. On this evidence the young talent is one to keep and eye on over the next few years.

As Maguire takes to the stage for the final night of what has been a well-received tour of renewal, taking in locations including London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, what becomes clear is that the remarkable voice remains incredibly potent. Most significantly, it is now accompanied by a maturity and wisdom earned from years of adversity, troubles and, ultimately, triumphs.

More than anything, this tour, alongside the new album Stranger Things Have Happened, seems to mark a clear line in the sand for Claire and her future direction, wresting back her career and delivering on what can become one of the finest voices in the industry. Comparisons to everyone from Annie Lennox to Adele via Florence Welch are not far wide off the mark.

Even the familiar power ballads of her first album are stripped back, with fist-pumper “Last Dance” now accompanied only by a lone acoustic guitar and far removed from the bombastic instrumentals of the album version, yet still mesmerically powerful in its delivery. The subtle evolution of “Ain’t Nobody” seems to reflect aptly the changes in Maguire herself since its initial release as her debut single in 2010.

Alongside these staples, her set list features a great variety of songs that bring the best out of her, from the spiky electro pop of ‘Boomerang’ to the gentle, driving rhythm of “The Valley”. Each one showcases her renewed confidence and growing versatility to a modest but enraptured crowd, who are won over as much by her grounded humour as her evident musical gifts.

For an artist whose first album was panned for lacking individuality, this was a performance laced with character and personality. Each song was punctuated by refreshingly forthright and hilarious audience interaction - on this tour it appears she has made a habit of distributing free beers to the audience and encouraging a stage invasion during the penultimate song.

It's clear that there is still more to come from the 29-year-old now she has discovered a more personal and unique style, free of big-label pressure and influence. Continued progress will hopefully soon see her elevated to performing at the concert halls and arenas that her awesomely powerful voice deserves – a voice that was frankly too large for its surroundings tonight. It’s a genuine surprise that no structural damage was caused to the building.

If any doubts remained, they were banished by Maguire’s closing act. It takes a special talent – and a special character – to end their set with an impromptu, spine-tingling, a cappella rendition of “Spaceman” at the request of the expectant and awestruck crowd.

With her career now finally moving forward again, on the evidence of tonight there is much more to look forward to from Clare Maguire.

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  1. Klara, Clare Maguire @ The Lantern, Bristol, 04/10/2016 – Live List - 11/10/2016

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  2. Clare Maguire at The Lantern, Bristol. | James Ayles - 11/10/2016

    […] This review was written for Drunken Werewolf. […]

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