Alice Phoebe Lou Is Wide Awake at Tour-Closing Show at Webster Hall
December 09, 2022
Alice Phoebe Lou – Webster Hall – December 8, 2022
“Loving you’s the cure and the crime,” sang Alice Phoebe Lou in “Mother’s Eyes” the opening song of her set at Webster Hall on Thursday night. The show was the last of a tour that ran through South America and Mexico, a tour on which, Lou explained, she got sick multiple times. Leaving the next day to visit her family back in South Africa after a tour like that, she could be excused for a lackluster performance, half a mind already on that flight home. The set, however, was not lacking in luster or anything else for that matter, juiced by an enthusiastic New York City audience (“This city … kind of kicks you in the ass, but in a good way”) Lou’s voice strongly took the opening number into all sorts of surprising nooks, setting the tone for a high-energy performance that went on for nearly two hours.
The opening stretch of the set leaned heavily on material from her 2021 release, Glow, the sound a dream-within-a-dream haze. The title track was a sleepy groover with an inventive chord progression creating a starry-eyed boogie. The lyrics often matched the dreamlike quality of the music, Lou singing, “Lie down on that bed of clouds” in “Heavy//Light as Air,” her voice floating Mr. Sandman style over the crowd, held aloft by the airiest slide guitar and a pillowy bass. Despite the bedtime mood of the music, Lou was positively awake and buoyant, bounding across the stage, shimmying and exchanging energy with the willing audience, more than once attributing her mood to the full moon, more than once singing songs to the full moon: “Me & the Moon” getting the entire room to sway in unison and “Lover//Over the Moon” finding that crowd dappled in blue light as the pace slowed to a comfy slumber, more featherbed slide guitar soothing the audience.
Lou dipped into her back catalog during a solo section, “Girl on an Island” and “Fynbos” highlighting her songwriting talent and giving her voice the spotlight otherwise unadorned. Opener Sam Burton joined for a short set of songs including Lou’s take on “The Water Is Wide,” gentle yelps of guitar and extra harmonies making this version a keeper. The last third of the set was one crowd-pleaser after another, everybody in the packed house singing and cheering and dancing and ultimately pogoing along to “Something Holy,” “Witches” and “Dirty Mouth.” For that last number, the end of the tour, the disco ball lit up, thrilling everyone with its simple beauty, one final dream before the long journey home. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Photo courtesy of Sasha Abraham | @Sashaseesshows