Live Review: Isaac Gracie @ Exeter Phoenix

Emily Pirie remembers Isaac Gracie's lowkey headlining gig at the Phoenix

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The fans of Isaac Gracie may feel close to him whilst they listen to his gentle tones in the library. However, it is at his live performances where one can truly acknowledge his soulful yet simultaneously rocky voice, along with his gentle sense of humour and rhythmic harmonies.

The 24-year-old Isaac Gracie catapulted into the music scene in 2016 when he released his debut album, Songs From My Bedroom. The album features five demos, which focuses on his skilful guitar playing and choir- like voice. It encapsulates a sense of emotional rawness through the poignant lyrics on love, loss and heartache.

the perfect cocktail of poignancy, moody tones, and loud vocal riffs that a listener needs

From 2016 onwards, Gracie has maintained this soulful angst in his gentle songs like ‘Reverie’. However, he has also given singles such as ‘Death of You and I’ and ‘Show Me Love’ a lick of rock, which possesses the tones of Nick Cave and the Battle Seeds, particularly their punky ‘Stagger Lee’. Luke Winstanley describes Gracie’s music in the Clash magazine as possessing the tones of ‘Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley’, which is the perfect cocktail of poignancy, moody tones and loud vocal riffs that a listener needs.

Gracie’s soulful brilliance was exhibited at Exeter Phoenix on 22nd of November. To my surprise, the evening begun with the ethereal Billie Marten walking on the stage, flaunting her long blonde hair and natural face that provided the sense that a pre-Raphaelite muse from Ripon had just graced Exeter. She bewitched the audience with her peaceful voice singing her well known songs, such as ‘Milk and Honey’ and ‘Heavy Weather’ along with ‘Blue Sea, Red Sea’ from her new 2018 album.

However, it was the entrance of Gracie and his two band mates that really enraptured the Exeter audience. Billie called Isaac a ‘gem’ and he certainly suited this description as he entered to the theme of ‘Mr Bean’, which ran smoothly into his upbeat song, ‘Running on Empty’, which all exhausted students could appeal to with the fall of deadline season. Gracie’s rocky numbers that united the audience as they yelled ‘sweet embrace, oh my days!’ was enforced by his wacky outfit, which consisted of a loud Hawaiian shirt and crowned by long peroxide blonde locks.

it was the performance of his gentler songs that wholly transfixed me

Despite the audience’s enjoyment of his loud songs, Gracie also revealed his shyer, more vulnerable side. Gracie opened his heart to Exeter as he sung ‘Hollow Crown’, asking the rhetorical question, ‘Was I vulnerable or too unsteady?’ After seeing Gracie at Leeds Festival this year in a rockier setting, I felt much more connected to him in a quieter environment. It was not only his humour that was portrayed but also his humble nature, as he thanked the audience for being so encouraging after previously having a ‘crap gig’. No one could get bored, for he played a combination of old and new, including ‘Sweet Embrace’ and ‘Broken Wheel’, which my Spotify has been rather addicted to recently.

Although he did deliver his wacky songs with passion and power, it was the performance of his gentler songs that wholly transfixed me. Gracie provided an evening of feeling, humour and songs that evoked a true sense of escapism. If you want to similarly escape from your books, then please listen to his live version of ‘Digging’, which will not fail to disappoint. To me, it was extremely reminiscent of Jeff Buckley’s live album at Sin-é from 1993.

 

 

 

 

 

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