Gig Review... Lewis Watson @ KOKO, London, 18th November 2013

Playing a venue that holds 1,100 people is always going to be an overwhelming opportunity for any artist who has always toured in the smaller, independent venues. This time it was Lewis Watson’s chance to experience it all and if there’s anything we can take away from his headline set, it’s that he appreciated every second of the show.

The singer/songwriter from Oxford has been breaking personal records since the day he released his first DIY EP but playing at KOKO was the biggest and by far the most important. Support sets came from Meadow Lark and Southern, who set the tone and pace for the night with a mix of country and folk melodies that filled the venue with the sound of the future. Everybody was here to see the guy who still remains down to earth, despite everything he has achieved. 

Photo courtesy of The Guardian
Although it took three goes for the Warner Brothers titles to role, Watson finally managed to get on stage and have the crowd in the palm of his hands from the first chord. Opening with a new song, KOKO was silenced but not by order, by choice. A unique voice with an edge that gives it a smooth tone graced the stage and took everyone by surprise. It was from the opening track that we all knew this was going to be a night to remember. It was magic.

Full of hits such as Calling, Close, Windows, Bones and Into the Wild; the set seemed more of a celebration of the last 18 months – right from the release of his first EP in April 2012 – and a look towards the future. We were treated to album tracks which sound like hits that are going to have the ladies falling in love and the guys appreciating the fact this is a lad with cool vibes about him. Every song had meaning, a truth behind it and a minimal performance which gave a strong effect of emotion. Having been supported by a band all the way through it, they added an extra element to the gig and made each track sound even bigger and more like an anthem. It hit me like a ton of bricks that suddenly Lewis had gone from being a regular guy just putting songs on YouTube to a real artist. But he’s still just a normal boy who’s perhaps just a bit more successful than us all. 

Nothing made more of a statement than his music. Showing flexibility between vocal chords, a real understanding of the music he wants to make and a connection to every lyric he sings, Lewis Watson proved just why he should be on our Sounds of 2014 list. Releasing an album next year is going to take him to the next step and if it’s anything like what we heard on that night, Watson is about to become the next victim of serious fame. 

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