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Live Review: Kelsey Lu, Oscar Key Sung

7 June 2019 | 2:34 pm | Guido Farnell

"Under vivid deep red lights, Lu delivers an artful and flawless performance that has the crowd gasping with astonishment."

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Many artists in a support slot would be sad to acknowledge that most of the people that will eventually gather here tonight aren’t particularly interested in listening to them. Oscar Key Sung turns the situation to his advantage by delivering an intimate set of subtle vibes that feature minimal, stripped back arrangements. As the crowd grows, Key Sung gets the beats bouncing with his trademark R&B grooves, over which he layers low-key pop songs that glow with personal reflection. It's the vulnerability in Key Sung’s heart-on-his-sleeve pop songs that wins the crowd.

The sound of chirping birds introduces Kelsey Lu. Loud and distorted, these chirps feel very artificial, and we have to endure a lot of them before Lu comes out to perform. The set starts with Lu dealing a quirky improvisation on her cello, looping and layering the instrument to spellbinding effect. It sets a chamber-pop expectation that Lu artfully flips for the folksy vibes of Dreams and Time off her first release Church. Under vivid deep red lights, Lu delivers an artful and flawless performance that has the crowd gasping with astonishment. 

As Lu starts to showcase her amazing debut album Blood, she demonstrates a capacity to synthesise diverse influences such as ambient, classical, electronic, jazz and pop and fluidly morph them into a minimal groove that works our eardrums to delightful effect. There is a rare honesty to Lu’s lyrics, which reflect deeply on her experiences to deliver a certain wisdom to listeners. Blessed with an amazing voice that has power and range, Lu thrills fans. 

Blood packs a big emotional punch, Shades Of Blue deals in heartache that just can’t be shifted, and has an instant classic feel to it. In a live context, Lu and her band give these tunes a deeper bass vibration and a lot more thump. While there’s a seriousness to Lu’s music, she has a veneer of hipster cool in between songs that makes it clear she just wants to party. “Yeah,” she says, and the crowd roars with approval. “Yeah,” she says even louder, eliciting an even louder response from the crowd. “Yeah!” she screams, and everyone in the room goes crazy. “I’m just gonna stay here for a while and do what I do, and you are going to love it,” she says with a sly smile.

The show wraps up with Empathy, which comes with a heartfelt introduction about realising personal strength and power, beating writer's block and a dedication to her father. A unique talent, Lu is only getting started and her best work is yet to come.