Ahead of her latest EP’s release, Grantham-born Holly Humberstone returned to Nottingham for one of the city’s most memorable gigs this year.
In what she described as her home gig, Humberstone put on a stunning display of the hits that have built her reputation in the last two years, as well as some brand-new tracks.
Make no mistake; this was a major coup for Rescue Rooms.
With the gig also being last in Humberstone’s schedule before her second EP is released this Friday 12 November, there was a feeling of a new era for the singer being heralded.
Amongst her family and friends in the venue, as well as a throng of adoring fans, there couldn’t have been a better way to mark the achievement.
The night began with a performance from Dylan Fraser as Humberstone’s support act, and – following up on previous impressive appearances – he was an appropriate and engaging presence.
Fraser is evidently one of the indie scene’s good guys right now, and has honed his support slot to a tight 30-minute drill of achingly emotional tracks and endearing patter.
Between these two vital elements, you can’t go far wrong.
Admittedly, the most memorable moment may have come as the 20-year-old Scotsman asked for post-gig food suggestions and a fan responded by throwing a packet of crisps onstage, but that wasn’t to say he underperformed.
Two tracks stood out for their message and beautiful delivery; ‘Gucci Sweater’ and ‘I’d Rather Be Here’.
In these and other songs from his two existing EPs, there is certainly plenty of potential for Fraser to continue exploring his identity and create a fantastic debut album.
The night was Humberstone’s, though, and soon the 21-year-old kicked off with a faultless rendition of her early hits.
‘Vanilla’ and ‘Overkill’ was an excellent opening salvo, but the night really got going when a new song, ‘Thursday’, was introduced.
Following a similar theme to previous releases – one of an ultimately unfulfilling love – the track builds impressively from an unforgettable opening line to a crescendo of epic proportions.
It’s certainly worth looking out for on the new EP.
Humberstone – a one-woman band, playing the guitar, synthesiser and loop station in each song to that point – then shifted over to the keyboard for two weepy ballads.
‘Haunted House’ was particularly poignant, having been preceded by Humberstone describing the loss of her childhood home and the wider struggle of letting go of youth.
The single will be joined on the new EP by the Matty Healy-produced ‘Please Don’t Leave Just Yet’ and the end-of-relationship story ‘Friendly Fire’, both of which sounded fresh on the night.
In terms of atmosphere, though, what followed was certainly the highlight.
‘Deep End’, which gave the tour its title, was Humberstone’s first official release way back in January 2020.
Here, it was refreshed with a monologue about awkwardness, particularly with mental health conversations, and how even the smallest gesture of friendship may help those close to you.
It was sung with incredible passion to whomever it was penned for, and served as a perfect example of the strength within our generation to begin such discussions.
‘Scarlett’, dedicated to one of Humberstone’s closest friends who was dating an “average” man, then brought an impressive response for a song that has only been out for two months and was the night’s real earworm.
Finally, ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ closed a chapter on the first phase of the singer’s career, and an encore of ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ gave the crowd exactly what they wanted.
Both were sung in good numbers by the 450 or so fans present, delivering the message that Humberstone, after so long performing behind closed doors, has arrived.
Of course, that was one of the greatest aspects of the night.
Celebrating artistry that has blossomed despite a pandemic was joyous.
Humberstone herself commended everyone present for their patience after two postponements of this gig, but really, it was she that should be praised.
She has not rested on her laurels and has continued to be brave and truthful in her songwriting.
As a local act that is now on the verge of national stardom, that is excellent to see, and we certainly wish her all the best.
‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ EP is out Friday 12 November on all streaming platforms.
All images courtesy of Will Hugall.