Luke Sital-Singh @ The Lantern, Bristol, 15/09/2014

Luke Sital-SinghColston Hall’s baby sibling of a venue, The Lantern, has carpeted floors. You might think this an irrelevant observation: you’re wrong. In between acts, as the bottom of every gig-goer in the room finds itself squashed against that old-fashioned floor decor, it’s a most accurate indicator of the atmosphere.

That atmosphere would fall into a mellow sort of category, in the sense that there’s no jumping about or singing along: it’s not that kind of gig. “I want to make a festival called ‘Depressed-tival,’ ” says 26-year-old Luke Sital-Singh, midway through his set. Captivating with its rawness and the voice explicitly betraying buried emotions, heartfelt opener, “I Have Been a Fire” is a fitting one to ease you into a downtrodden state of mind. The mood won’t stray far from depressing - that’s clear from the start.

Though emotion-charged and arresting as a singer, there are points throughout the night where the pop element of Luke Sital-Singh’s style lessens the credibility of some of his tracks. The least endearing moments come with the most upbeat songs. “Greatest Lovers” for instance is so optimistic that it borders on cheesy and similarly “21st Century Heartbeat” is a memorable offender. “Luna”, a love song about a killer whale, on the contrary, is amusing and sweet. But it’s the slower songs about harder emotions that are both the most memorable and sound the most genuine.

For the most part, the bulk of the audience remains hypnotised though ringing phones and inconsiderate, drunken middle-agers laughing loudly do their best to steal attention away. Something, however, upsets the onstage flow as “Bottled up Tight” the most famous song of the night, saunters in with twanging guitar strings and smooch-y lyrics. Things fall apart for a moment when the lyrics are forgotten the first time around, and even on second attempt the guitar input sounds a bit off. It’s a shame made more noticeable by the fact that everybody else knows the words.

“Nearly Morning”, which comes next, is noticeably sturdier, showcasing everything from bold exasperation to timidness in the space of a line as lyrics are sung to a bare keyboard background. Then comes the suffering of fragile, difficult “Fail For You,” in place of an encore, bringing the ‘Depressed-tival’ to a solid, fitting end.

As an audience of hopeless, foot-dragging romantics trundles over that ageing carpet on their way out, it’s clear from the ever-present atmosphere that Luke Sital-Singh has a talent for putting music to those words which describe common heartache. His is a voice, a brain and a potential simply burning with a fire inside, though it’s one inadequately fanned when he’s singing about happy things. Not to wish misery and unhappiness upon anybody, but it’s when he’s at his lowest points that Luke Sital-Singh is strongest.

Read our recent interview with Luke Sital-Singh here.


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