Lewis Watson – Live Review – Fruit, Hull
By Laura O’Donnell, March 2013
Lewis Watson takes to the Fruit stage in Hull with the heavy weight of expectation riding on his skinny young shoulders. He’s is the new Ed Sheeran, if you believe the hype. He is part of that current wave of sensitive male singer songwriters that also includes Jake Bugg and Ben Howard.
As is now the way for any savvy young talent, Watson’s rise to prominence begins through social media; less than three years ago. He posts his first song (a Bombay Bicycle Club cover) on YouTube. His clips since have more than 5 million views. He has around 50,000 Twitter followers and his songs and Zane Lowe and Annie Mac are champions. Not bad for a 20-year-old who only picked up a guitar four years ago.
The Fruit crowd is mainly teenage girls who demand an authentic boy-with-guitar standard of heartthrob over your average Harry Styles and co. Though he must be used to it now (most dates on this tour are sell-outs), Watson seems genuinely surprised to be greeted by eager screams as he walks on stage. Modestly introducing himself, he begins his set with ‘Bedroom Floor’, and immediately hooks every teen girl for the rest of the evening.
While he’s touted as the next Sheeran, Watson’s voice is more reminiscent of another young white soul boy who was the one-to-watch for five minutes in 2006, James Morrison (whatever happened to him?).
Hopefully Watson will stay credible for a bit longer than Morrison ever managed. He keeps the crowd engaged with funny, unassuming song intros, telling how he nearly died filming the video for ‘Sink or Swim’ and that the promo for ‘Bones’ is a no-budget job by a mate that can still be seen on YouTube.
“Melts a couple of hundred adolescent hearts”
The first few tracks, though, bob along rather unexcitingly, before picking up a bit with ‘Bones’ and another Bombay Bicycle Club cover, ‘Lamplight’. Watson tells the crowd he hates talking about his feelings, yet in the clichéd way of all musicians since time began, puts his heart all over his songs, if not on his sleeve.
You can see why the teenagers swoon with lyrics like ‘so I’ll spend the night looking into your eyes / because I want to remember them if I ever fall blind / we could jump in the ocean and sink like stones / but that’s ok with me baby ’cause I’ll be next to your bones’ (‘Bones’). Ahhhh…young love eh?
Not done with the charm offensive of the set’s slightly pedestrian first half, Watson then proceeds to create his own, small-venue version of an ‘in the round’ stadium performance. He comes off stage into the crowd and requests that his besotted audience sit down on the floor around him.
He performs an unnamed song “about blue WKD”, rotating himself and his guitar in the middle of the floor to melt a couple of hundred adolescent hearts. Back on stage, he closes with latest single, ‘Into The Wild’, a highlight which finally ups the tempo of the pleasant-enough-but-can-we-rock-out-a-bit-now-please? set.
Watson hangs around after the show to chat to fans and sign EPs and body parts (possibly), leaving Hull’s young female population very happy indeed.
All pictures: Ian Rook