Gig Review: Vanessa Carlton at The Lexington, London (May 3) and The Lantern, Bristol (May 4)
Returning to UK shores for the first time in 13 years, Vanessa Carlton is back on British soil in support of her 2015 album, Liberman. Now a fully-fledged independent artist, and seemingly relieved to have escaped the handcuffs of her former record company, Vanessa began her five-date tour at The Lexington in London this past Tuesday.
Preparations had not gone quite to plan, however, with Vanessa’s suitcase lost in transit whilst she was en route from Atlanta the prior day – and losing many items of sentimental value seemingly took an emotional toll. In protest, Vanessa vowed to wear the same outfit she arrived in each night of the tour until the suitcase was found, but by night two, in Bristol, fresh attire was spotted; indicating that the issue had fortunately been resolved.
The Lexington, an intimate, dark room above a typical English pub, was sold out weeks in advance, with the 200-strong capacity crowd packed in and ready for Vanessa’s first full-length gig here since 2003 – which was in support of her first ever album, Be Not Nobody. Coincidentally then, Vanessa took to the stage and declared, “This is something we do in America – let’s get this out of the way”, by way of introducing A Thousand Miles, her stand-out hit from her debut album that’s now generated in excess of one hundred million views on YouTube alone.
Catching many fans off-guard by its early placement, Vanessa only then welcomed fans and introduced herself on completion, clearly happy to move on from this ‘obligation’ and focus on her new material. As it turned out, A Thousand Miles was the only song played from any of her first three albums, as Vanessa instead devoted the set to her two most recent projects: Rabbits on the Run, a true masterpiece from 2011, and the aforementioned Liberman recording that prompted this current tour. During the show, Vanessa made mention of the fact that she considers these releases – her first and second as an independent artist – to be her first ‘proper’ albums. Quite a statement.
Vanessa was joined on stage by Skye Steele, a multi-talented instrumentalist from Brooklyn who did an exceptional job of playing violin, adding backing vocals, and even utilising an Apple Mac to sequence drum and guitar parts – which were recorded at the start of certain tracks and then looped throughout, adding far more layers and texture than one might expect from a two-person performance.