Possibly London’s coldest night yet and we headed out to catch Billie Black‘s debut headline show at The Old Blue Last. In the end, we’re glad we got the thermals on and made our way to Shoreditch.Billie is a 19-year-old singer/songwriter from London, she’s unsigned, and she’s very much at the beginning of her musical journey. Tonight’s show is more than likely sold out off the back of only two songs. The first is the Mura Masa produced ‘This Simple Pleasure’, and the second is a solo effort entitled ‘I Don’t Need Another Lover’. Both songs showcase different sides of Billie as an artist, and tonight we saw them all.
The room is packed, and as Billie jumps on stage, it erupts. Immediately, she looks shy and nervous, almost shocked at the reception. Not that she shouldn’t be, we’ve seen a lot of debut shows and there’s always that level of vulnerability on display. This time, the confidence grows almost immediately. As soon as ‘Give You The Grace’ gets going with its deep, brooding bass, the confidence arrives. There is some slick, well executed choreography and the crowd are promptly on side.
‘Something Better’ keeps the mood going with so much synth, the speakers crackle under the pressure. It continues to build until a slick, sharp beat drops and the song swells into something special. It’s where Billie gets to show off her vocal properly for the first time, you feel that she has more scope for power in her voice but she remains restrained, riffing delicately instead (take note Jessie J).
In ‘I Don’t Need Another Lover’ Billie already has a crowd favourite. It’s a demure, sexy song, and that translates well live. The choreography gets sexier and as the lights dim, the 19-year-old shows glimpses of an unadulterated confidence, becoming polarising for a few minutes.
The show draws to a close with some uptempo tracks. ‘Going Under’ is our favourite song of the night. It’s indicative of that other side of Billie. It’s a song for the club, rather than a blues bar, with its pumping bassline and achingly good hook. It’s got that future house vibe, much like the show closer, ‘This Simple Pleasure’. ‘Going Under’ should really be the next release, as the house sound works so well with the vocal, it’s a perfect match (stay away Disclosure).
Billie actually reminded us of Charli XCX when we first saw her live, back at the tiny Lexington. She had the songs, the talent, and she showed glimpses of the popstar she has grown to become. She was on another level by the time the o2 Islington show came around. It’s only Billie’s first show, and if she continues to grow, to galvanise those polarising moments we saw glimpses of, there’s no reason why she can’t be headlining those bigger venues. Especially if we hear more songs like ‘Going Under’.