As music lovers most of us can think back to that group of artists or single artists that was constantly present through our years of maturation. They are the artists we had on repeat, through our first relationships and heartbreaks, through good days and bad, through every high and low. The artists that we played over and over morphed into our inner voice, counselling and consoling us through each emotional mountain and valley. It is a special relationship between artist and fan, literally growing up with this person in your head. For many, Lewis Watson is that artist.
The Oxfordshire born acoustic artist first released his standout hits four years ago and with his second album Midnight Watson continues to mature and create incredible tunes. At the O2 Institute Lewis Watson played a standout show that displayed the maturation of Watson’s own sound, art imitating life.
Lewis Watson has lost the man bun and candy crush acoustic songs. His sound has taken on a new rough rock edge while still maintaining the sweet lyrics visible on all of his other works. This new evolution of sound is no doubt the natural maturation of artists that Lewis has taken, and seems incredibly natural for the musician. One thing is certain, Lewis is still deeply loved as noted with his devoted fans that took to the Institute to sing and fawn over all of Lewis’ work. Watson opened the night with blues tinged “Maybe We’re Home.” From the very beginning of the show Watson’s emotional outpour permeated the room, his boyish charm and infectious smile making him immediately likeable. The simple and swinging song signaled the development of sound that would come to be the marker of the night.
With an acoustic guitar in hand Lewis played fan favorite “Sing or Swim.” The older tune elated the crowd, who sang just as loud as Watson himself. The sentimental tune of young love perfectly showed off Watson’s raspy deep tone voice, which washed over the audience like a peaceful river. Up next was track two of the new album, “Little Light.” The pop rock tune included some electronic moments, only heightened by the electronic drum of next song “LA Song.” The mixture of acoustic and electronic has become quite popular for many singer songwriters, and the exploration of sound seamlessly infiltrates Lewis’ set.
As the band exits Lewis picks up his trusty acoustic guitar and delights the audience with “Bones” and “Into the Wild.” Both songs are stripped down and simple, showing off the brilliance of Lewis’ writing capabilities. Reflecting on concepts like love and finding out life’s purpose, it is obvious why so many have found Lewis’ songs to be so important during their ages of discovery.
The acappella version of “Halo” absolutely stills and silences the room; as Watson’s power vocals cut through the crowd there is a lovely sense of rest and adoration. The band returns and the mood picks up with up-tempo “Forever” and summer breezy sensation “Hello Hello.” More power pop rock songs “Give Me Life” and “Outgrow” follow these.
Watson and band then meld together acoustic folk with rock, songs like “Castle Street,” “Where the Water Meets the Mountains,” and “Deep the Water” all being perfect amalgamations of the different types of sound that is present in Watson’s newest work. While still holding tightly to interesting lyrical content, songs about the end of the world and about being used, the songs are both reflexive in nature as well as catchy musical tunes. Dreamy “Stay” with its perfect emotional builds and closes out a lovely evening.
You never know how or even if an artist will continue a career. There is the fear of creating the same sort of sound, or of crafting commercially contrived waste. Lewis Watson has done neither of these; in the newest album Midnight Watson has created stunning works with new sounds and resonating lyrics. His live show solidifies his bottomless connection with fans that no doubt have grown up with Watson. With a summer of touring ahead of him one can only look forward to all that Lewis Watson will continue to do and all the brilliant tunes that he will no doubt continue to release.
Reviewer: Kylie McCormick
Photographer: Arta Gailuma