With the release of ‘My Wild West’ back in February, and having already embarked on a sold-out US & UK tour; 2016 hasn’t stopped being a rollercoaster of a ride for Lissie. Hitting the road again, she etches another mark onto her list of performances at Bristol’s boat-venue Thekla. Here, Lissie proved that no amount of success or passed time will stop her being just like a friend to her loyal fanbase. Performing below water-level, Lissie was accompanied by only one other bass guitarist – stripping back her set yet still managing to make ripples throughout the crowd.
Thrashing into action, with the lead single from her latest album, Lissie takes to thinking about “what could’ve been” with the track ‘Hero’. With the crowd humming along from the first chord she plays, and similarly providing chants of “I could’ve been a hero / could’ve been a zero” throughout the chorus; you get the sense of a special atmosphere. While being native to the US, growing up in the midwest and seeking a career out in Nashville and LA; Lissie is still somewhat of a hidden gem in the States. With three top 20 albums in the UK however, her fanbase remain entirely passionate and loyal. After bustling through both ‘Further Away’ and ‘Shameless’, two of the highlights on her second album ‘Back to Forever’ – Lissie addresses her loyalty in the most humble way.
Sharing a recap of her past six years since the release of debut ‘Catching a Tiger’, she explains how the UK has always been a key to her success. “I’m trying a lot of new things now, I bought a farm and left California.” – a key inspiration behind her third album – “And by buying my records and coming to my tours, you’re supporting not only me – but my talented band, my fight for equality and I’m even beekeeping now and want to keep giving back to the world”. Segueing this into a performance of ‘When I’m Alone’, undoubtedly her biggest ‘hit’ as it were; you can see the excitement in her stage presence to have the room of people – that she seemingly knows well – join into each self-written lyric and chant every instrumental nuance.
Bringing down the mood for the heart-wrenching ‘Everywhere I Go’, again from her debut album, Lissie’s vocals shine through. With just enough edge for her hardest rock tracks, yet refraining harsh attitude and replacing with just enough sultry whispers on her softest ballads; Lissie’s versatility shines through alongside solely her guitar. While removing the guitars in a set might kill the rock vibe for some; it’s made up for with a powerful voice that paves it’s own way through the songstress’ perfectly written tales of heartbreak.
Bringing the room together for one of her new tracks, ‘Daughters’, Lissie explains how she partnered up for International Women’s Day to donate profits from the downloads. After stumbling across the documentary ‘Pray the Devil Back to Hell’ – she details how she was inspired she felt as a woman. “I want to stress the importance of equality, and how some girls throughout the world have absolutely nothing. I’m surrounded by men in my industry, but we respect one another and work together. I want everyone to be able to live in harmony.”
Showcasing once again how much her upbringing plays into her songwriting, Lissie introduces ‘Oh Mississippi’ – an almost entirely country-esque classic. Similarly, when performing ‘Ojai’, detailing the moments when she realizes she needs to leave California – you can see Lissie’s grateful outlook on life and each of her experiences. With genuine hard work, comes genuine appreciation. And after letting her latest album come to her naturally in the move to Iowa, she’s managed to produce a set some of her best work that her fans positively respond to. Following Lissie is like catching up with an old friend, and hearing about all the exciting things she’s been doing lately. Staying humble and grounded only makes it all the more worthwhile both as an artist – and a fan.
Closing the set with a delightfully sung cover of ‘Eternal Flame’ by The Bangles – with again a perfect amount of soliloquy enhanced with a raspy edge; Lissie steps down from the stage and into the crowd. Surrounding herself with her closest fans and followers of the past 6 years – which in turn can be the harshest and scariest critics of her work. Despite that, however, the thunder of claps, chants, squeals and screams that complimented Lissie walking off set let her know that what she’s doing is working – and working very well at that.
‘My Wild West’ is out now via Cooking Vinyl
This Lissie article was written by Max Clemens, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo credit : anddav