One of the biggest rising stars in the indie music scene, Julien Baker, took her eagerly awaited UK tour to Manchester’s intimate setting of Gorilla for a truly stunning night of heartbreaking emotion and utterly sensational talent.
Support on the evening came from Becca Mancari, an artist who should be on more peoples lips, as a stripped-down set did not flight her performance whatsoever. Becca and a fellow band member on electric guitar opened the evening, bringing her breezy indie rock to the stage. Her touching and mellow beginning to the evening captured her emotion within her songs ‘Golden’ and ‘Devil’s Mouth’, which sounded even more tremendous stripped down to the bone. It was an elegant performance with Becca thanking Julien Baker for allowing her to join Julien on tour across Europe saying that it is a “true honour” and that it is “amazing for two queer women to be able to do this together” prompting the crowd to applaud Becca as well as Julien in what was a truly special moment of the evening.
With the lights dimmed, and the venues air conditioning switched off to maintain a pin-drop atmosphere, Julien began her set with the evermore beautiful ‘Sprained Ankle’ as she immediately grasped everyone’s attention with her eerie yet stunning vocals. Baker relies heavily on loop pedals, with her guitar being the key element in portraying the sounds of her records. It helps add to the emotion, as you listen to the track being built up from a few chords layered upon each other in beautiful fashion.
Her tremendous sophomore record ‘Turn Out The Lights’ showcased her talents, and at 22 years of age, she has become a musician that is doing everything right in how she portrays her emotions. ‘Turn Out The Lights’ was a shining record amongst the dark, it connects with people (especially during the live performance) exquisitely well with its rawness and true emotion that when it comes to the live stage. It’s haunting in a way, her hurt is poured into the record with such passion and devotion. There is the occasional crack of a smile as she sings ‘Everybody Does’ as the crowd sing right on back to the lone Julien. This seemed to be a constant theme, as Julien elegantly performs the crowd send shivers down the spine with a feeling of elegant heartbreak fluttering under Oxford Road station.
Prior to ‘Shadowboxing’, Julien was joined by friend and violinist Camille Faulkner, adding to the depth and integrity of the set. Tracks like ‘Everything That Helps You Sleep’, ‘Televangelist’ and ‘Hurt Less’ saw Julien take place at a piano, creating a sprawling range of emotion through the instrument along with Faulkners’ soothing violin. Julien Bakers haunting vocals pierced your soul, theres no way about it. Her voice acts as an emotion tugger, triggering your thoughts and emotions.
The final trio of tracks has to be Baker’s most honest and heartbreaking moments. ‘Sour Breath’ saw her pick up the guitar again as she began layering the track with her loop pedal, creating that plucky emotion-full guitar sound that Julien uses to her advantage so well. With the final stretch of the song and its repetitive lyrics of “the harder I swim, the faster I sink” the audience can feel that pain, and share it with Julien Baker in what was truly immense emotional moment. Eponymous album track ‘Turn Out the Lights’ and the extremely powerful ‘Appointments’ closed the evening in a similar style to how it began. Julien, on stage with her guitar providing a truly unforgettable evening.