It’s no secret that Lindsay Ell has absolutely rocketed to fame over the last few months. Her debut album The Project was released to critical acclaim last year and her show at London’s Borderline during Country Music Week was one of the highlights of the event. She’s now re-released The Project with UK edition artwork and is returning to these shores to perform at C2C, including a set at the BBC Radio 2 Stage.
Ell was introduced by the legendary Bob Harris and Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, who also produced her album. She came on to a flurry of rocky drums and played a wailing, crunchy guitar intro with a funky rhythm – reminiscent of 90s Red Hot Chili Peppers – before launching into Wildfire. Her vocal had a great snarl and gravelly edge with a soulful feel on the bridge, and reminded me a little of Sheryl Crowe. It was clear that she was absolutely owning the stage, with plenty of swagger and throwing herself around like a whirling dervish as she got lost in the music.
After her high-energy start, Ell took things down a notch with her self-described favourite song on her album, Castle. The wailing guitars contrasted her sweet, rich vocal and showed her versatility as a singer and a musician. She continued this myriad of styles throughout her set, performing songs ranging from the bluesy, romantic Waiting On You (which got a huge crowd reaction), the smooth and slinky Champagne and the pop-influenced Mint.
However, the standout moment of the set for me was Space. Ell opened the song with a reverb-heavy riff where she got down on her knees and absolutely shredded her guitar, her fingers flying up and down the neck to wild cheers from the crowd. She then moved into the song proper, which was a complete contrast. Her vocals were breathy in places, raw in others, and you could hear the growl and anguish in her voice. It worked incredibly well with the sparse instrumentation of the song and was absolutely spine-tingling.
Ell closed her set with the Criminal, which had a desolate feel to the intro before developing into a bluesy melody. She delivered the lyrics in the verse quickly, almost rapping them in places, before showing the richness in her voice on the chorus and a gravelly edge on the bridge. You could feel the passion in every note she sang and it was completely irresistible. The crowd roared their approval and it was clear that she was loving performing for them.
Overall Ell delivered an outstanding performance. She’s one of the best guitarists I’ve ever seen live and has the most incredible infectious energy on stage. Whilst she’s got plenty of fans over here in the UK, this appearance will have won her plenty more and they’re very well-deserved. She spoke about her love for the UK fans during her set and, on the strength of this show, she would be welcomed back with open arms any time. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait too long before she returns.
Set list: 1. Wildfire 2. Castle 3. Waiting On You 4. Champagne 5. Mint 6. Space 7. Criminal Performance date: 10th March 2018