Caradoc Gayer reviews the intimate Nottingham leg of Beabadoobee's acoustic 'Beatopia' tour.
After I climbed the stairs to the second floor of Rough Trade Nottingham and walked into the bar, I was greeted by an impressive turnout for the Beabadoobee acoustic gig. It seemed that fans of the London singer were determined to watch her play from a few yards away, even for the unprecedented 40-degree-heat. I couldn’t blame anyone, as it was exciting that an artist of such star-power was playing a show this intimate, but in some ways it made perfect sense. After all, her second album Beatopia is just as honest and even more intimate than her first, Fake it Flowers, and signals interesting changes in Bea’s production style and collaborative process. Therefore, why shouldn’t she play a series of shows where, as mentioned early in the set, she can ‘actually talk to people’, and connect with her fans all the more.
"The dreamy chords of She Plays Bass cast a spell over the room.."
This sense of connection was established from the get-go, when Bea thanked everyone for braving the heat and coming down, before suitably playing the lo-fi Beatopia cut Sunny Day. She then played other songs from the album, 10:36 and Talk both stripped of their sprawling psychedelic production which, as Bea noted, stemmed from herself and her guitarist-collaborator Jacob being stoned all the time. This was so much the case, Bea told us, that she worried whether her judgement was skewed about how good the songs were. As a result, she thought it was nice to see how much fans loved them. It was also nice to for the spotlight to be refocused upon her lyrics and vocals, and to be reminded that her personal and candid song-writing is at the heart of her huge indie rock instrumentals.
Moreover, the songs never really lost their sense of catchiness when played acoustically, despite Bea emphasising her inexperience with these kind of shows. The dreamy chords of She Plays Bass cast a spell over the room, whilst groovier, Fake it Flowers cuts like Care and Sorry had people bobbing their heads. The set highlight, however, was an unreleased song that Bea had written in the past few weeks. She said that the tune was about her breakup after a seven-year relationship; it had a propulsive acoustic picking pattern, with lyrics about falling leaves in autumn, and the small details about people's faces. It was lovely, and indicated interesting musical developments in future albums. No doubt, this show only increased my, and I’m sure others, anticipation as to how epic the Beatopia shows would be with a full band, and seemed like a lovely, intimate introduction to a new musical era.
Cover image courtesy of Beatopia press release. In article video courtesy of BBC Music via Youtube.