Freya Ridings @ O2 Institute 3 Birmingham, 29 October 2018

The lights went down and on came 24-year-old Freya Ridings in a white sparkly dress. From the first time she opened her mouth it was clear that the many people who have compared her voice to Hannah Reid from London Grammar are right. Her strong but breathy voice is divine. I can’t think of another current singer with a better vocal, and her voice is far more mature than her years.

The venue was sold out and the room packed so it was hard to see much more than a head once Freya sat down at the piano. She wore her long blonde hair half up and half down, and not being able to see much of her didn’t impact on my enjoyment of the performance since the sound and atmosphere were so brilliant.

The sound was solid throughout the evening with credit going to the two sound men for getting the levels absolutely right. Unfortunately, in this room there’s a sound effect where you can hear every conversation going on in the audience over the show, particularly when the artist is introducing each song. I’m not sure whether it’s the room itself or the placement of the speakers but I did find it quite annoying.

Freya gave us a set with a mix of heartfelt piano ballads like ‘Signals’ and ‘Blackout’, and pumping, bass-heavy songs such as ‘Poison’, ‘Castle’s’ and ‘Holy Water’. During ‘Holy Water’ Freya showcased some Ed Sheeran style vocal looping, and for ‘Unconditional’ she asked the audience to put up the torches on their phones like a ‘sea of stars’.

For most of the evening Freya was backed by a three-strong band consisting of guitar, backing vocals, drums and bass/cello whilst she played piano and sang. For ‘Unconditional’ and ‘Lost Without You’ she performed alone and those two songs don’t need any added frills.

The highlight of the evening was the encore consisting of ‘Ultravoilet’ and ‘Lost Without You’. ‘Lost Without You’ is one of those songs that you can remember exactly where you were the first time you heard it. It truly conveys the pain of losing someone. My one bug bear is that so many people watched it though their phones!

The evening opened with support act Rhys Lewis from Oxfordshire. His acoustic performance featured him on vocals and guitar, as well as another musician on keys. He has a great voice with excellent dynamics and tone and a raspy edge. His sound is similar to artists like Ray Lamontagne and Josh Rouse. The songs that stood out for me were ‘Better Than Today’ and ‘Waking Up Without You’.

This is guaranteed to be one of the last opportunities to see Freya Ridings in such a small venue. She’s going from strength to strength after ‘Lost Without You’ was featured in this year’s Love Island and went viral, as well as following her stellar performance on Radio 1’s Live Lounge earlier this month. Catch her while you can as I’m sure she will be selling out much larger venues very soon! You can also buy her two live albums – ‘Live at St Pancras Old Church’ and ‘Live at Omeara’ which I highly recommend.

Set List

  1. Love Is Fire
  2. Signals
  3. You Mean the World to Me
  4. Poison
  5. Blackout
  6. Castles
  7. Unconditional
  8. Maps (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover)
  9. Holy Water

………………………

  1. Lost Without You
  2. Ultravoilet

Reviewer: Chrissie Duxson

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