LIVE: Lewis Watson at The Borderline, London, 13 December 2012

Indie | Friday 14th December 2012 | Martin

A chorus of shrieks becomes mass hysteria as a contingent of young females spots Lewis Watson strolling on stage. Without introduction, he strums into his first song and is a few lines in before realising that the capacity crowd are bellowing every lyric right back at him, much to his humble delight.

Attempting to commence a career as a singer-songwriter is a suicidal endeavour. Dishing out your songs, which are riddled with your personal emotion, to the sceptical world of the internet or the local stage can end in public ridicule. Then there’s the issue of self-publicising and getting recognised in a genre that has monoliths such as Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard. So when a new name is hauled up from the underground depths of YouTube, and that individual is selling out concerts and getting air time, you know some serious talent and graft have culminated in the makings of their success. Here we have Lewis Watson.

To introduce his iconic song ‘Sink or Swim’ from his second EP (Another Four Sad Songs), Watson proudly announced: “This song was played by Fearne Cotton once, by Zane Lowe...twice, and by Annie Mac...twice.” His sentiment here is not to brag, it’s in astonishment of his own success. Then the song opened with staccato chords, his rasping voice took command, and what got the Radio 1 DJ’s so excited became apparent. However, his performance throughout the night was littered with many other examples of his song-writing prowess. ‘Even If’, also from his latest EP, was a personal highlight because of its moody pre-chorus resonance and evocative lyrics. Watson also performed a stripped-back version of Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Lamplight’ and played a few new songs, proving his professional ability to write amazing music beyond his original material. ‘Little Darling’ impressed most because Lewis was able to sing alone, without the usual help of the entire audience.

Mr. Watson had a band that came and supported him for certain numbers; this was apt as it gave more texture and substance to the songs, then when they departed, he was able to serenade with greater effect. The band could well be an irreplaceable benefit when his next tour dates come round in 2013, with a stint in Australia supporting Birdy which includes a night at the Sydney Opera House.

With over 5 million YouTube views, and over 40,000 followers on Twitter, it’s plausible to imagine that Lewis Watson will become an infamous British artist and his emergence from a bedroom guitarist to a touring performer is a self made success. Another Four Sad Songs peaked at number 16 in the iTunes album charts and he reached number 1 in the singer-songwriter chart. At present, I’m sure he doesn’t mind the rampage of young girls that flock to him after each gig, but it won’t be long until he’ll need to acquire some sort of security team.  

Special recognition is also due to Lewis’ supporting act, Martin Longstaff of The Lake Poets, who gave a mesmerising performance.


Here is a live duet of Lewis Watson and Gabrielle Aplin (who is currently at no.1 in the UK singles chart with ‘The Power of Love’):


This is a Martin Flagstaff (The Lake Poets) singing his ethereal song, ‘Rain’:


By Martin Cater (@MartinCater)

Gig Photography London