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Review: Holly Humberstone @ Bristol Beacon

From sisterhood to situationships, Holly Humberstone is the epitome of girlhood, and on Friday the 15th of March, Bristol Beacon was ignited with feminine energy for the last show of the UK leg of her debut album tour: ‘The Holly Humberstone Show’.

By Mollie McLaughlin, Third Year History

I first discovered Holly in 2021 through her collaboration with Sam Fender on the acoustic version of his title-track ‘Seventeen Going Under’ and I rediscovered my love for her music during the long-awaited release of her debut album Paint My Bedroom Black last year. Holly also went on to open for Sam at his sold-out homecoming shows at Newcastle’s St James’ Park, as well as having supported the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Girl In Red, and Lewis Capaldi. 

Before Holly graced Bristol with her alternative pop and electronic sound, the evening was led by charismatic Nick Carpenter, known as Medium Build. Hailing from Alaska,Nick captivated the audience with his comedic charm and his harmless mocking of British culture meant he was not shy of a joke or two. Combined with his folk-rock sound and passionate performance, Medium Build made the perfect opener before Holly’s more delicate act.

Spotlighted in front of a gothic backdrop of a giant spider web centred with an illumination of her name, Holly Humberstone along with her band Lauren O’Donnell Anderson (drums); Jack Rennie (lead guitar); and Seth Tackaberry (bass/keyboard) kicked off the set with the album’s title track ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’ before emerging into the bouncier ‘Into Your Room’ where ditching her guitar allowed Holly to intimately perform to her audience from both sides of the room beyond the constraints of centre stage. 

Heightened by an array of bright coloured lighting, Holly’s set progressed into one the standouts of the night with ‘Cocoon’, where Medium Build returned to the stage for a duet and his country voice was nothing but a compliment to Holly’s softer vocals. Directly after was the highly anticipated ‘Dive’ from her new EP Work in Progress (coincidentally released on the same day), where fans’ immersion in her lyrics led to their own passionate performance of shouting the line ‘you’re such a f***ing liar, Camille’ back to Holly. 

Following an already exciting setlist, Holly exposed her more vulnerable side, where battling feelings of loneliness from moving out for the first time was perfectly embodied within her singular piano ballad, – ‘London is Lonely’ – becoming another memorable standout of the night as she created a safe space for feelings of self-identification and self-exposure.

The encore wrapped up what was a perfect setlist, with the acoustic melody ‘Friendly Fire’ revamped into a more powerful crescendo led by the rock sounds of Jack Rennie’s electric guitar. After addressing the crowd one last time with aheartwarming “Bristol this has been a dream” the show ended with ‘Scarlett’, her signature closing song, where the crowd danced one last time to a powerful melody of heartbreak that came to life under the deep blue and purple lighting.

After seeing Holly live, it is no surprise that she was awarded the Brit Rising Star award in 2022, her performance was fuelled by intimacy and emotion and each song told their own story of self-reflection and discovery. The Holly Humberstone Show was truly an unforgettable performance of girl power,and it is refreshing to see female indie artists taking centre stage.  

Featured Image: Mollie McLaughlin

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