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Gabrielle Aplin at the Wardrobe: A Review

By Sophie Fennelly

Image credit: Sophie Fennelly

After a day of uncertainty regarding whether the concert would go ahead amid fears of the Coronavirus, there was a calm and relieved attitude from both the performers and the crowd at the Wardrobe on Thursday night. The audience did not appear to have been affected by health fears as Aplin still gathered rather a large audience. In what came to be the final night of her ‘Dear Happy’ tour for the time being as the remaining dates have been rescheduled to September, Aplin gave an admirable and passionate performance which was openly fuelled by the threat of future cancellations.

Aplin chose two opening acts who combine the two different genres in which Aplin’s music is based. The first, Nick Wilson, showed off his sombre but beautiful tunes, reminiscent of those on Aplin’s first album. He also undertook an ambitious but effective acoustic cover of Into You which got the audience singing along. The second support act, Emily Burns, played more upbeat songs, similar to those on Aplin’s most recent album. She was energetic and has a strong, powerful voice which carried her songs even over the noise of people arriving late. She connected with many of the audience through the honesty and authenticity of her lyrics. It is undoubted that Burns will have a surge in her fan base after this tour.

Aplin herself appeared in an understated manner, clad in a shirt and jeans and a cup of tea in hand it was clear that she was going to choose to let her music stand for itself rather than opting for theatrics. She performed a mix of songs from her latest album ‘Dear Happy, and earlier pieces such as ‘Home’, the title track from her third EP that was released in 2012. In devoting so much time to her earlier music Aplin showed appreciation of her background, as she began her career performing covers on YouTube but only reached a larger audience in 2012 with her cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’ which was used for the John Lewis Christmas Advert.

Although Aplin gelled well with her band, showing a genuine closeness and gratitude to them, the highlight of the night was her acoustic performances. Sat alone at the piano we were able to see a more natural side of Aplin, and the beauty of the music was real testament to her vocal talent. Alongside this Aplin also chose to open up to the audience, discussing her struggles with OCD and how this has affected her with the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Here the audience saw a side of Aplin that she herself admitted she does not usually share, and through that we got to feel not like fans but like equals. Aplin expressed great gratitude and surprise throughout the concert, explaining that when she returned from her hiatus she did not expect to have retained such a fanbase, and she was flattered that people had turned up despite health fears.

However, she also showcased a fun and energised side of herself with performances of her more upbeat singles such as ‘Kintsugi’ and ‘Miss You’ which she encouraged the audience to dance and sing-along to. Tracks such as these demonstrate her transition from folk to pop, however, when plugging her new stripped version of her album, released Friday, the day after her concert, it was clear that Aplin will not be abandoning her acoustic roots anytime soon.