Beabadoobee – Live in Nottingham
Dirty Hit is the record label behind some of the most influential artists in the world, especially The 1975 and Wolf Alice. Another act on their rota is beabadoobee, a Filipino-British singer-songwriter who’s been nominated for the Rising Star Award at the BRITs as well as the Prospect Music Award. She’s an act that has strong appeal and an even stronger fan base.
I’ve seen beabadoobee twice, first at the Dirty Hit tour at The Bodega in Nottingham… well… for 30 seconds anyway… and then a full set supporting The 1975 at the Motorpoint Arena. I even bought a ticket to see her at Rescue Rooms last year but unfortunately I missed it. But tonight, she returns to Nottingham to play the iconic Rock City, and I’m beyond excited to see what she brings to the venue. I know that she’s a naturally gifted live performer, but I wasn’t at all a fan of her sophomore album, Beatopia, released earlier this year, as I thought that the potential the record had wasn’t utilised. But I hope she can bring those songs to life in a live environment.
The start of the show was wonderful, with as much strength and atmosphere as you could get from a concert opening. Throughout the whole show, Bea’s vocals were just what you’d expect. She sounded exactly like how she did on the recorded versions, which certainly didn’t add anything to the excitement level, but neither did it detract from it. It’s a talent to have the same vocal ability live as on mastered recordings, so I’ll give her that. Because of this, her melancholic and sometimes soft-spoken voice was vocally perfect throughout. This was showcased during the acoustic part of the set during the encore, in which she performed the viral hit Coffee, as well as Ripples, a deep cut from Beatopia, and her vocals were gorgeous and it was beautiful to hear. Her interaction with the crowd was fantastic as well – from the wonderfully chaotic opening of 10:36, she had the crowd at the palm of her hand, getting everyone to jump in unison after making them crouch down, reacting with genuine compassion when the crowd sang along with every single one of her songs, especially for The Perfect Pair, which was a wholesome performance for sure.
The real highlight of the set was the impeccable band chemistry. Whereas the stage presence by Bea and her band was quite motionless in places, they were still able to bring the energy and everything else, and when their presence was strong, their performance was even more powerful, and it was felt within the crowd, and the four-piece blended very well together as a band. The biggest shout-out has to go to guitarist Jacob Bugden who was note-perfect all night. He performed with such passion and heart and it showed. He even got the crowd to hold his guitar horizontally, quickly snatching it back after realising how that may not have been the best of ideas, but his heart was really in the show. You can tell the people who were born to be musicians, and Jacob is one of them, and if ever he makes a solo project in the future, so long as it’s executed right – it would be an incredibly exciting musical prodigy.
The setlist was a strong mix of both of beabadoobee’s two studio albums, Fake It Flowers and Beatopia, as well as songs from her various EPs. She did almost every song I wanted her to perform, from her breakout hit She Plays Bass to the formidable Charlie Brown, to the gorgeous rock ballad Sorry, I’m just gutted that Are You Sure? wasn’t added to the setlist, but everything sounded great nevertheless. The songs played from Beatopia had more substance live than on the original recordings, which is what I was hoping for throughout the set.
During the show, I saw only two things that could be improved on for future tours and live performances, one small and one major. My smaller criticism was that for Bea’s performance of Ripples, the backing sound of string instrumentation was heard towards the end of the song. I understand the decision to include this specifically, they’re part of the original recorded version, and they add a nice tone to the song too, but as a backing track, it ruined the overall effect of the performance, which was perfect on its own acoustically. The only way I think it could have worked is if the instruments were played live, which would have been really nice and added an extra layer to the show. My main criticism is that I think Bea and the band peaked way too early in the set. They instantly brought their a-game and provided the audience with some sensation performances and everything else, and they very much kept that throughout the show’s duration, but they didn’t add anything to it, they just stayed at the same level the whole night, which made the second half of the set pretty lacklustre. What makes a great live show is that artists would begin very strong and finish even stronger, growing evermore potent as the show goes on, giving the crowd the very best of their performing ability. But because they did that from Song #1, as a result, the rest of the show suffered, which was a real disappointment.
Overall, beabadoobee provided us with a brilliant set. She made everything work very well, making her weaker songs stronger and giving the 2,000-capacity crowd exactly what they came for and so much more. However, parts of the show could have been executed better, and if she can learn from aspects of this tour, the next one will be incredible, but one thing’s for certain – beabadoobee is a bloody brilliant live performer.
- Apple Cider
- Fairy Song
- Worth It
- Charlie Brown
- The Perfect Pair
- Sunny Day
- He Gets Me So High
- Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene
- See You Soon
- She Plays Bass
- Back To Mars
- Last Day On Earth
- Dye It Red