Live Review: Louise Golbey @ The Wilmington Arms, London

It is not for nothing that London-based singer-songwriter Louise Golbey has steadily gained a reputation as one of the Capital’s most respected up-and-coming young artists. One listen to her EP How It Is – a conveyor belt of pure aural refreshment – and you don’t need much convincing. It was on this repertoire of songs Golbey chose to focus her short and sweet set at the Wilmington Arms, Central London last Friday.

Louise had her work cut out trying to win over the voluble, ready-for-the-weekend, after-work crowd but she was up for the challenge. With her guitarist Jonny in-toe and percussionist James on Cajon drums, she kicked things off with the pensive mid-tempo jam, ‘Regret’s A Funny Thing’. Whilst the EP version is more funk-heavy, Friday’s stripped-down rendition was a completely different animal albeit still entertaining.

For the uninitiated, the simple blend of pleasurable vocals, clever lyrics and a catchy melody quickly establish why fans sing Golbey’s praises. A self-professed soul vocalist with jazzy overtones, this is not mere boasting but a fairly accurate description of Louise’s craft as evident from her performance of the EP’s title track. The successful fusion of these joint influences married with Golbey’s solid songwriting skills make for easy enjoyment.

Louise spiced things up mid-set with the salsa rhythms of ‘No Pretence’ – a defiant, philosophical reflection on an ill-fated romance. She brought things to a close with the madly infectious, ‘Same Old, Same Old’. If one song exemplifies how Golbey is able to shine amongst the plethora of aspiring soul singers in the Capital, this is it. By the end the audience were singing along like they’d known the tune all their lives. Affable Louise seized on the good vibes, engaging the revellers in some call-and-response ad-libs, even managing to squeeze in a brief homage to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Senorita’ and one of Soul II Soul’s many classics – ‘Get A Life’ – along the way.

If a good gig leaves you wanting more, then Golbey accomplished her mission. In short, it ain’t all about the hype; Louise continues to demonstrate that she is very much worth her creative salt.

–Tola Ositelu

Photography by Neil Raja for SoulCulture.