Kyla La Grange is in Bristol for the second time in one year. Since her last show she has released a debut LP and become a more familiar name on the landscape of indie/pop and gigged the year away. This was the first date of her first official UK headline tour at Thekla.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that she was a result of the ideas Florence left behind. Before Kyla graces the stage there is little more than ivy intertwined with the lighting rigs and fairy lights draping from each side of the boat. It’s quite Midsummer Nights Dream, fairly kooky and some would say slightly predictable but there was certainly an atmosphere in the room. Kyla crept on and opened with ‘Woke Up Dead’ which moulded seamlessly in to ‘Courage’. Both are cuts from her recent debut ‘Ashes’. The band are tight. The cheers after every song make Kyla blush and shell up in a manner far more convincing than the decorations. Her springy voice bends and stretches effortlessly and the mantra like sound of ‘Courage’ isn’t lost live, if anything the thumping bass drum and armored performance style make it all the more stirring.
At times the flailing arms and slightly feverish dancing smacks of the Kate Bush/ Florence Welch and could be seen as a bit try hard. Kyla La Grange truly doesn’t need it. Her voice is phenomenal and when the third track of the night is the anthemic ‘Been Better’ (a definite highlight of the LP) you know La Grange doesn’t need things like decor and dancing to hide behind. It’s clear that she loves what she does and even clearer that she loves people who love it too. She makes a point of thanking people for singing along, and calls out recent messages from Twitter followers. It’s incredibly refreshing to see an artist genuinely humbled by hard earned success.
Other album tracks like ‘Catalyst’ and ‘To Be Torn’ get played also. Lead single ‘Walk Through Walls’ receives a great reception. Kyla La Grange has got a collection of really strong songs. They carry amazingly live and it is hard to dispute that she is quite difficult to take your eyes off of. Her look is a little bit dispensable, part of me wishes she would scrap it in order to highlight the craftsmanship of her song writing but maybe the cold, biting, nature of her tracks lends itself to a slightly gothic presentation. Her sound is one that is full of drama and narrative and her voice makes it all the more thrilling. When all said an done, Kyla La Grange has a made a superb record and her live show compliments it ideally. Forget the theatrics, that is all that should matter.
Words: Duncan Harrison