Ivy & Gold, London-based duo of Rachel and Jamie, are kicking off the night with The Town. In a manner reminiscent of Marina & the Diamonds, singer Rachel wails out tunes, sliding with ease between high register notes to the lower ones (as far as I can tell, she is equally good in both), accompanied by Jamie on the keyboard. She dances around in her own world in a slightly surreal experience, drawing you into her emotional pain with the highly charged Bullets – “a hundred bullets in my heart”.
Alice Jemima from Newton Abbot (“just down the road”), who follows on brings the audience very much back down to earth with her sweet voice. I am reminded of Gabrielle Aplin – a much smilier one at that. As I confessed to her later on, the audience can’t help but feel so lightly happy looking at her smile through her songs. Accompanied (surprisingly) by her electric guitar, Alice tossed out songs such as No Diggity in her own style, calling for the audience to sing along. In no time at all, Laura Doggett, the very reason for our evening, was taking the stage.
Possessing a heavyweight mystical voice somewhat weightier, more emotional and plaintive than Lana Del Rey, Laura Doggett twists & turns the Cavern into a surreal, ethereal environment where only her, her voice & you exist. She started with Phoenix, the very song that really built up her fanbase. Hailing from Salisbury & Bath, Laura informed us that this was nevertheless her first headline show outside of London and that she was really excited. Clad in a flowing white maxi dress, her blonde hair tousled, Laura presented a repertoire of about a dozen songs, including popular favourites Old Faces (on Broadchurch Series 2) and Moonshine.
Watching Laura sing live is as much watching an art performance as much as just hearing her sing. The way she places herself into her music (closed eyes, hand movements and gestures) and displays her emotion is as much part of the experience as is her truly gorgeous voice. Her songs are lyrical underpinned by heavy addictive drumbeats, at times accompanied by aching cello strings. They are about everything from the man she met on the street (Mr David) to a cold-blooded Lizard Lady that was heart-achingly poignant to bad Mondays (Full Moon Monday).
For the opening acts chosen & Laura Doggett herself, Cavern was very much the perfect setting, offering intimacy and allowing the audience to really feel the singers. It’s not a big venue and neither was it packed but I see no reason why future performances by Laura would not be. In fact, her Bristol show the day after has sold out.