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Lindsay Ell, The Grace, London live review

The Canadian musician returned to the UK for a one-off show.

Lindsay Ell
Credit: Stoney Creek / BMG

Lindsay Ell has worked hard the past 6 years or so to build an audience here in the UK. She started to really gain traction during Country Music Week 2017 where she played at The Borderline in London and when she returned to that venue in October 2018, she sold it out. Between then she was here to perform at C2C: Country to Country and earlier this year Ell made another trip to the UK to support Chris Young on his Losing Sleep World Tour. Due to head off to Germany for a tour this week, Ell announced a one-off last-minute show at the intimate London venue The Grace.

The solo show saw Ell playing selections from her album The Project, a series of covers and preview new material from her upcoming new record, due in 2020. Opening the show with a mash-up of Mint and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Ell showcased those incredible guitar skills that she’s very well known for. She always makes the most intricate and difficult riffs look so easy, giving hope to all of us wannabe guitarists that someday we’ll be able to play even a fraction as good as she can.

The punchy groove of Champagne came next and the audience participated in a sing-a-long, something that continued throughout much of the night. Waiting On You, The Project’s lead single, got a great response from the crowd before Ell launched into the first of the night’s new material, her current single I Don’t Love You. A mix of bluesy Country, the song is a powerful statement about moving on from a relationship that’s run its course. It stretches Ell vocally on the chorus and it’s a promising taster for her next record.

In the middle of the set Ell played two back-to-back covers. First up was Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved, which to my ears sounds much better when it’s sung by Ell. The second was a cover of John Mayer’s Stop This Train. Ell has recorded that track as part of her release The Continuum Project, which is a full recording of Mayer’s iconic album Continuum. Stop This Train allowed Ell to utilise her guitar skills to the fullest and she was very impressive.

New material followed those covers with How Good and Not Another Me, the latter a song she played during the Chris Young tour, and they were both really strong. Thematically they stuck to love, which is hardly a surprise given that Ell has been through a break-up since the release of The Project. The audience reacted well after Ell had joked that she might fall flat on her face by performing new material. She needn’t have worried as the audience was just grateful to hear new material before the masses do.

During Castle, Ell’s loop pedal started misbehaving and after spending a few minutes trying to fix it, she decided to ditch it and play fully acoustic. As she’s such an engaging and talented performer, she sounds great in whatever set-up and to be honest I didn’t really miss the loop pedal during the last few songs. Space was added to the set list after a few people in the crowd requested it and a cover of Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered added a bit of funk to the evening.

The final song of the night was Ell’s biggest solo hit to date, Criminal. Following a jaw-dropping guitar solo at the beginning, Ell launched into the song and encouraged the audience to sing along. They needed no encouragement and the performance brought the set to a satisfying end.

Promising to be back in the UK sooner rather than later, Ell left the stage briefly before returning to meet fans after the show. It’s been fantastic watching Ell’s fanbase grow here in the UK and the fact that she sold out a last-minute show in a matter of hours, shows that there’s a lot of love for her here. I’m eager to hear the full new record and hopefully it’ll be out by the next time she comes over so she can work lots of the songs into her set list. Sounding great and wowing with her guitar prowess, Ell put on another incredible show and her special relationship with her UK fans keeps growing with every single trip.

Set list: 1. Mint / Ain’t No Mountain High Enough 2. Champagne 3. Waiting On You 4. I Don’t Love You 5. Good 6. Worth the Wait 7. Someone You Loved (Lewis Capaldi cover) 8. Stop This Train (John Mayer cover) 9. How Good 10. Not Another Me 11. Castle 12. Space 13. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Stevie Wonder cover) 14. Criminal Performance date: 18th November 2019

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