WHO better to mark the re-opening of the Civic Theatre than homegrown singer-songwriter Lauren Housley?
Lauren and her band brought fresh sounds to the Civic to match the theatre’s glossy new look.
Manchester’s Robbie Cavanagh performed an impressive solo set of heartfelt beautifully-crafted country-tinged songs, before removing his hat to adopt his “Lauren Housley guitarist” persona.
Lauren’s upbeat soulful vocals lend an air of celebration to the proceedings and her cheery warm persona — she is clearly delighted to be here — suits the intimate nature of the venue.
She is evidently excited to be back on stage with her band, who have kept themselves busy throughout lockdown by releasing new album Girl From The North, performing regular Tuesday Night Live social media shows and returning “show ready” after a couple of well-received festival performances.
The catchy, accessible songs span Americana, country, alt-country and soul and the talented band weave bits of Springsteen, Patti Smith, Carole King, a twist of heavy metal at one point and, more obviously perhaps, The Eagles into the songs.
The new album provides the bulk of the material with the brilliant We’re Not Backing Down dedicated to all the people in the world who are fighting for positive change, the emotive Why Are We Making It So Hard?, radio-friendly Guaranteed Sunshine and harder, rockier Breakdown all hitting the spot.
The act may be called Lauren Housley but the other four on stage are way more than a simple backing band; guitarist and co-songwriter Tom Dibb is incredibly versatile on guitar, his undoubted talent providing a real stability to the songs, which are powered by bassist Mark’s relaxed style and Xavier’s strong drumming.
A sympathetic cover of the Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody closes the show and has everyone up and dancing in the aisles.
An ideal way to mark the comeback of live music in a theatre much-missed through lockdown.