Gig review: BILLY LOCKETT – O2 Academy 2, Oxford, 2 February 2020

We have ventured into the Academy a few times but have never been to the more compact upstairs Academy 2, which was the venue for Billy Lockett’s show. He’s certainly taking a big step and gamble by going out on a headlining tour. Pleased to report that he pulled a decent sized crowd for a Sunday night, built on many past support slots with the likes of Jeff Lynne’s ELO (where we first became aware of him) and Lewis Capaldi, which have helped spread the word about his music.

Seated behind his piano (bar one song on the acoustic guitar), Billy Lockett is an artist who is totally immersed in his music as he performs, ably demonstrated on the instrumental piece he dedicates to one of his major influences, the Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi.

They always say write about what you know and Billy Lockett certainly does, as many of his songs are based on personal relationships and the death of his father. As he joked at one point before ‘Alone’, which he was going to call ‘Die Alone’ before his manager suggested otherwise, his songs are not often happy ones. However, they do resonate with many, as the crowd joined in on the aforementioned ‘Alone’ and ‘Thinking About You’.

After eight years performing live he now has his fan favourites that are expected at each show. These include two of his finest songs to date, ‘Empty House’ and ‘Fading Into Grey’, which gave a chance for the audience to join in and join in they did! Of the three times we have seen Billy Lockett live, each time it has been as a solo performer. It would be good to compare this to when he plays with a full band, as ‘Empty House’ for example is a perfect arena anthem and would sound amazing with a full band behind it.

‘Hard Act To Follow’ was the encore, a song which he had performed with James Corden on ‘The Late Late Show’. A perfect song title as, on current form, not many artists would want to be on after a show by Billy Lockett. The show tonight reinforces his appeal across all ages (from teenagers through to the more mature music fan) and he looks set to see his musical career keep on rising.

The opening act was young singer songwriter Mabes who, armed with just an acoustic guitar, ran through a pleasant set of her own songs. She had a touch of Suzanne Vega in her vocals at times and, with a few more gigs under her belt, should see her name and music start to be more widely known.

Review by Andrea and Jason Ritchie

TUE 04 Feb Guildford Boileroom

WED 05 Feb Hull Adelphi

FRI 07 Feb Newcastle Cluny

SAT 08 Feb Liverpool Arts Club

SUN 09 Feb Glasgow King Tuts

THU/FRI 13/14 Feb Hoxton Hall, London

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