Live Review: Holly Humberstone – Leeds O2 Academy, 23.11.22

There’s a real buzz in the O2 Academy in Leeds. Last time Holly Humberstone headlined a tour in Leeds, she played solo to around 400 fans at the Brudenell Social Club.

Since that night, things have really taken off for the 22 year-old singer-songwriter, with US headline tours and support slots for Olivia Rodrigo and Lewis Capaldi helping to catapult her into the consciousness of music fans everywhere.

Opening with a bona fide hit, the title track of 2021s EP The Walls are Way to Thin sets the tone for the night. Word for word playback from the growing die hard fan base still seems to amaze Holly, despite her genuine success. 

“You’re all so cool! You’re being so nice to me”, she says, although that can never really have been in doubt, such is the fervour among this crowd.

Venue scale aside, this is a very different feel to the Brudenell show. Holly now tours with a 3-piece band behind her – Sofie Veie (guitar) James Attwood (bass and keys) and Lauren Anderson on drums.

It elevates the classic singer-songwriter sound to another level, adding richness and depth to underpin her delicate vocal performance. 

Each song sounds very personal and even though there are c.2,000 people in here, the vulnerable quality in Holly’s voice makes it feel intensely intimate. 

London is Lonely was created when Holly left home for the first time. It illustrates the feelings of being away, in a flat full of strangers and, although London is electric and full of people, it can also be painfully isolating at the same time. 

Lyrically, this song in particular resonates with the young crowd, but this is a feature of her work so far, candidly throwing her heart open to tell the stories that have shaped her up to now. 

The chat throughout is sweet and genuine, revealing the inspirations behind the songs through a self-confessed awkwardness. 

You can feel the connection between Holly and the audience in those moments though, at many points recognising in themselves the tales of mental health and heartbreak, of courage and defiance.

Songs old and new get the same reception. Latest single Can You Afford to Lose Me has already found its home among the fans, and the stripped back delivery – with Lauren Anderson emerging from behind her kit to keep the beat on a small drum pad – draws the crowd in further.

The final number Scarlett brings out around 1,000 mobile phones as everyone wants to capture the last notes of a beautiful 14-song set. It’s the song that propelled her into the mainstream. Holly has just continued to scale the heights since then and her ascending star shows no sign of slowing down based on the reaction of the Leodensian youth. 

London might be lonely, but the love from this crowd tonight will have made Leeds feel like a home from home for Holly Humberstone.

1. Walls Are Way Too Thin
2. Vanilla
3. Overkill
4. Please Don’t Leave Yet
5. London is Lonely
6. Drop Dead
7. Can You Afford to Lose Me?
8. Friendly Fire
9. Haunted House
10. Deep End
11. Thursday
12. Falling Asleep At The Wheel
13. Sleep Tight
14. Scarlett

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