louis berry - live @ camden barfly
Louis Berry - with an easy going charm yet unwavering confidence in his own ability - stalks the stage as he and his band launch themselves into set opener '.45'. Although relatively new on the scene, the crowd know every single word to Berry's back catalogue, and not one of them is standing still. The room's shaking, feet are stomping, hands are clapping, and the gig isn't even two minutes old yet.
Berry - originally from Liverpool - plays his set at a ferocious speed. '.45' has barely finished it's last note before he and the band throw themselves back into the gig with 'Give Me What You Want', and the audience catch a first glance of Berry's notoriously cheeky smile. He paces from side to side like a young Johnny Cash, and swigs whiskey in between verses.
There have been a lot of comparisons between fellow British solo artist Jake Bugg and Berry, and while there are similarities I'm sure - particularly with their respective influences - Bugg only co-writes his songs, while Berry's are solely self-written, and based on his experiences growing up in Liverpool. The Liverpudlian is actually more of a hybrid cross between Johnny Cash and Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. Modern day lyrics, a distinctive, charismatic voice and persona, and the stalking stage presence of Cash. There's a country twang to certain songs of his, too. It would be unwise to not presume this was partly behind Berry and his label's decision to record his first album in Nashville, Tennessee, and it works. It's refreshing, different, and exciting.
But while he does rock, roll, and everything in between, Berry can also slow the pace down too. 'Laurie' brings the room to an uneasy silence, and Berry's deceptively powerful voice has the audience hanging on his every word. I - along with the rest of the room - are all putty in his hands. Everybody is; This guy is the real deal.
The crowd are jiving, stomping and head banging again soon enough though, with standout hits 'Nicole' and '25 Reasons' coming back strong, before Berry tells us all he just doesn't do encores; his next song will be the last of the night. The audience's collective groans are drowned out by the opening chords of rambunctious 'Rebel', and they soon turn instead into cheers, and a mass singalong.
With several festival dates taking place over this coming summer, it would be highly surprising if Berry were to be playing in a small, intimate venue such as Barfly again this time next year. So, for now, let's enjoy having a chance to be so close to potential greatness, and just hope he gets there. On tonight's showing, I've no doubt he will.