Headrow House proved the perfect venue for the electrifyingly engaging Rosie Lowe to perform the Leeds leg of her CONTROL tour, which celebrates the release of her debut album. The refined aesthetic mirrored the minimalism of Rosie herself, a woman whose performance is defined by her powerful emotional presence, androgynous style and vocal ability, rather than flashing pyrotechnics and the facade of a deceptive stage persona. Despite releasing her debut album on Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label the day before, Rosie has been causing sonar waves to ripple across the music industry since her surfacing in 2013. A plethora of ethereal tracks have been released since then, including the haunting Right Thing EP featuring her now trademark understated electronic sound. Her music has the ability to powerfully resonate with crowds of 20-somethings who are also attempting to forge their identities, carve their futures and not get swallowed up by mountainous expectations.
Rosie, hailing from a rural village in Devon, has spoken openly about her struggles with depression, illness and disillusion, making her all the more marketable, as emotional realism in an industry so often saturated with post-pop packaged artists, no longer provides an audience with the soulful authenticity that they crave. This is reflected in her Dazed&Confused article ‘Rosie Lowe’s Girl Guide to Growing Up in the 21st-Century’, as it is clear that her musical didacticism goes beyond the semiotic power of her lyrics and perhaps has the ability to speak to, and guide, a generation.
Rosie cut a powerful figure on stage, silhouetted against a geometrical backdrop that echoed the electro-pop ingenuity of her music, which was further amplified by the intimate setting and close proximity to the crowd. Accompanied by a bassist, keyboard player, drummer, Rosie ensured a strong connection both with her band and the audience throughout her performance, often engaging in conversation that only increased her amiability. Her revealing discretions about the inspiration behind her songs, such as the warning to her best friend about a bad relationship choice in ‘Nicole’ aided the narrative power of her music. Rosie gave the impression each song functioned as a carefully nuanced emotion, flecked with real memories and underscored by incredible vocal prowess. Songs such as ‘Water Came Down’ and ‘How’d You Like It’ enthused the crowd, being her more popular material, but lesser known album tracks ‘Control’ and ‘Woman’ managed to hold their own in the room, testimony to Lowe’s infectious lyricism and emotive vocal tone.
Looking around the room, this performance was one teeming with connective duality, as each audience member’s fixed gazed was enraptured by Lowe’s presence, experiencing a personal connection with the charge of her words. This was a welcome change to the collective group experience that can often be found when watching artists or bands live. This personal and more emotional connection with an artist is sometimes preferable, and can both stir and resonate with you much deeper than up-tempo floor-fillers that capture the energy of the audience. Lyrical sentiments of self-doubt seemingly struck a chord with each member of the audience, peaking in the chorus of ‘Right Thing’: “Am I to blame // Did I lose this game?”, which, if this performance was anything to go by, Lowe need not worry about.
Words by Holly Hunt
Photo by Charlotte Morrin