You build a wall, we’ll build a bridge

Grace Petrie – Islington Assembly Hall, London; May 12th, 2022

It had been a long time coming this concert and the long wait and anticipation  made it all the better. When I bought the ticket back in February 2020 I had no idea it would be another two years before I’d finally see Grace Petrie live, but I must say it was totally worth the wait. What an amazing show!

Had a lovely afternoon in London with a friend and showed up at the Assembly Hall around 5:15 pm, very much surprised to b the first in line. There were very few of us until about 6:30, so I could have stayed somewhere warm instead. Oh well. Never thought I’d get a front row center spot at this show. If I had not already been excited, I was now.

We did not have to wait long and first up was support Jasmine Kennedy. I knew I liked her music, but must admit that I could not remember much about it or how she appeared on my radar – The Guilty Feminist I assume? Either way, it was really lovely, soft music, that she described as mostly depressing. We cheered loudly for hr before she even started and she loved it, then played ‘Laura’ for us. After that came a new song and from the lyrics I’d guess it might be called ‘The Things you miss’. I loved it. ❤️ She talked about ‘You made my teeth hurt’ being the title song of her EP, even though it was “a bit early in the set to start selling you stuff, but thats where we are”. What a beautifully sad song. Next was a song about her nana dying and the time se visited her at the hospital. And claimed it wasn’t hard “because everything that happened rhymed”. It was ’14 Miles’. Before her last song she joked that if we didn’t like her or either of the other performers we would not get refunds. She ended with ‘Percy Anderson’ and left me with a smile.

Setlist

Laura
“The things you miss” (new song)
It made my teeth hurt
14 Miles
Percy Anderson

Soft Lad was up next and I enjoyed her set as well, but it wasn’t completely my style. I definitely liked her softer songs better, i.e. the ones that didn’t use so many effects. My favorite was ‘Famous Songs about average people’. She explained how strange it is to meet the people that her mates have mad songs about and find out that these people are nothing special at all. At the end of her set she told us we might see someone looking exactly like her on the drums. 😀

Setlist

Eyeroll
2 Know U Betta
Human Condition
Singapore
Famous Songs about Average People
My Name
Least of My Worries

It felt like a really long wait for Grace then. I hoped she’d start at 9, but it was about 20 past when the lights finally went down and the crowd started cheering. The show was sold out and everyone sounded just as excited as I was. 😀  She stepped up to the mic, introduced herself, told us, it was incredible to be there and asked who had seen her before and for whom it was the first time seeing her. I cheered both times, because it both felt true since my first gig was Grace supporting Hannah Gadsby where she played fours songs, so this was the first full concert. She remarked that the second group sounded even happier.

Grace told us that booking the hall had been a gamble at the time and now this was her biggest gig ever. Sh introduced her band, consisting of Jasmine Kennedy on bass, Soft Lad on drums and Ben Moss on the violin. They kicked off the show with ‘Storm to weather’ that is “very much about the pandemic, but a political song as well”. I had been waiting for a long tim to har this song life and I sang along at the top of my lungs. “I will love you forever, we will dance again next year” – these words meant everything when I first heard them and helped carry my through the early pandemic days – singing them now felt like a great weight falling off of my shoulders.

Aftre ‘A Young Woman’s Tale’, Grace explained that she only had two types of songs: angry and sad and that she was a protest singer, writing left-wing songs about politics, trying to make Britain a more left-wing place, so ‘Farewell to Welfare’ was next. Quite a few people around me sang along to every word and I remembered surprisingly much of the lyrics. Afterwards she joked about how the young people in the audience don’t know who Theresa May is and she was “as bad as we thought it gets 12 years ago”.

According to a quick poll there were a lot of proud snowflakes in the audience and with ‘You build a wall’ came the first song that had me in tears. It was all sorts of beautiful, especially with so many people singing along. ❤️ After that, Ben Moss got to sing one of his songs, as he said “about how hard it is to be a man” 😁 He explained how masculinity needs to be rethought and that he had vailed all his thoughts on the topic thinly with the metaphor of a tree. ‘Sturdy Oak’ was absolutely lovely and I decided then and there to buy his album. Not only is the man a talented multi-instrumentalist, he is also a great singer. If anyone needed more reasons, he told us he was running a marathon to raise money for rainbow migration and part of the album sales was going towards this.

Back to Grace, asking us if anyone of us had the new record and pointing out how happy we sounded about it. No wonder, it is an amazing album. She mentioned how the next song had a bit of a country feel and how Ben recorded banjo and fiddle for it on top of each other which sounded great until it was time to play it live. Thus, they invited Deborah Chalmers on stage to play with them. Thy could not, however, start playing, before Grace explained about the swearing and how there was “a prominent Dick” in the song that Radio 2 was not happy about. 😉 Of course we fully supported her artistic integrity by singing along loudly to “Last Man on Earth”. There was even some clapping along going.

It made me rally happy to hear her play ‘Ivy’, the beautiful tribute to her niece. I have always love it. ‘Some Days are worse than others’ followed and I was crying again again. It is my current favorite on ‘Connectivity’  – I love it for the lyrics and the distinct Springsteen vibes I get from. Ben played accordion beautifully and I sang along softly while tears were streaming down my face. ❤️ Next was ‘We’ve got an Office in Hackney’ and w learned how much of the lyrics were direct quotes from people in the music industry that Grace had encountered. 😀

It was time to play the song that was the reason she was wearing ‘Black Tie’ and it was the loudest sing along of the night. There is something very powerful about screaming out that “the images that fucked ya were a patriarchal structure” and we do need and anti-transphobia anthem now more than ever. If songs can change the world, even just a little bit, this is one that will. The set ended with ‘Losing Side’, a powerful reminder that trying is the most important bit and that we may not see the fruits of our actions, but if we stand up for what is right we will hopefully leave a better world to those who follow us. As far as final statements go, nothing could have been more fitting.

We clapped and cheered loudly for more, until we got ‘Northbound’. One of the most upbeat songs of the evening perhaps and another wonderful sing-along. It as all over too soon, but I left elated, feeling I had gotten exactly what I hoped for and more than I was ready for. It was a great night and I took the bus home with a bunch of merch in my hands and a happy smile on my face. Can’t wait to do this all again in Berlin in September!

Setlist

Storm to weather
A Young Woman’s Tale
Farewell to Wellfare
You build a Wall
Sturdy Oak (Ben Moss)
Last Man on Earth
Ivy
Some Days are worse than others
We’ve got an Office in Hackney
Black Tie
Losing Side

Northbound

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