It has been three long years since Canadian alt-pop / electro-rock artist Lights toured the UK, which included two shows at Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen in London. Lights is hugely popular in her native Canada but over here in the UK she is still relatively unknown and plays some pretty intimate venues. As well as shows in Manchester, London, Bristol and Glasgow, her current six-date UK tour included two dates at Slam Dunk Festival (keep an eye out for our coverage), which will hopefully have introduced many more people to her music. I have been a fan of Lights since I first saw her play The Borderline back in May 2010, and she is a great live performer – always very energetic and engaging.
Support came from Chester alternative artist Lizzy Farrall, whose honest lyrics and lively performance seemed to go down well with the crowd. Lizzy played tracks including “Make Up Sex” and “Help” from her latest EP Barbados, which feature uplifting synth beats and catchy pop choruses, despite the often quite sad lyrical content.
Lights began her set at the sold-out show at The Garage in London on Thursday night with “New Fears” and “Savage” from her most recent album Skin & Earth, which were met with rapturous applause from the packed crowd. Lights (yes, that is her real/legal name) bounced around the stage with tons of energy – her long, bright red hair flowing like liquid fire as she moved. As well as tracks from Skin & Earth, she also played fan-favourites from her back-catalogue including ”Up We Go” and “Running With The Boys”, plus “The Last Thing On Your Mind”.
If electro-rock isn’t really your thing then Lights also has you covered with her acoustic albums: Acoustic EP, Siberia Acoustic, Midnight Machines and Skin & Earth Acoustic (due for release on 12 July 2019). As the titles suggest, these are acoustic versions of studio albums she has released. During an acoustic interlude in her set she played “Banner”, a great cover of “Believe” by Cher, plus her latest single “Lost Girls”. You can watch the official video for “Lost Girls” (directed by her husband Beau Bokan of Blessthefall) here.
After the trio of acoustic songs she ramped the pace back up and played a few more crowd-pleasing bangers before sitting down at a piano (keyboard) to play the beautiful intro to “Almost Had Me” – one of my favourite tracks from Skin & Earth. She really is a versatile and talented musician – not just a pretty face performing pop songs written by other people. The passion she has for her music (both old and new) shines through and you can’t help but share in the sense of pride she clearly has for what she has created
Not only is Lights a musical artist, but she also wrote and drew her own comic book series Skin & Earth to coincide with her 2017 album of the same title.
Skin & Earth is a story of a girl looking for hope in a hopeless world. Caught between romance and cults, gods and mortals, Enaia Jin is lead down a dark path by new lovers that reveals a twisted fantasy world and her own true nature. Set in a post-apocalyptic future ruled by the Tempest Corporation, the adventurous tale of loneliness, deceit and self-discovery ties in with a 14-track corresponding album.
The day after the London show I went to MCM ComiCon at ExCel to hear her speak on a panel about the album / comic project and what else she has in store. There are talks to turn it into a TV show and she is currently working on the second part of the story. Skin & Earth Acoustic is an especially interesting project as she travelled to real-life locations that inspired the particular songs corresponding to the chapters in the comic to record acoustic versions of the tracks in the environment that inspired them. That is some next level stuff! Skin & Earth Acoustic can be pre-ordered on a variety of platforms or purchased in hard-copy from here.
- New Fears
- Fight Club
- Until The Light
- Up We Go
- Love Fool (The Cardigans cover)
- Banner – acoustic
- Lost Girls – acoustic
- Believe – acoustic (Cher cover)
- Running With The Boys
- The Last Thing On Your Mind
- Almost Had Me
- We Were Here
Photos by Katie Frost Photography