Lantern Music Bar, a place dedicated to Alice Matthew, better known as Alice Phoebe Lou in addition to her hip Strongboi. On the current tour, she promised to sing only songs from her last three albums, and even if she doesn’t always keep it, it matters little in the context of the whole evening.
Live: Alice Phoebe Lou
place: Lucerna Music Bar, Prague
date: 31 October 2023
setlist (this is exactly how it was written on paper by the sound engineer): Angel, Touch, Dusk, Open My Door, Silly, Glow, Only When I, Shelter, Hammer, 3 to 4 solo songs, Lover, Heavy // Light As Air, Lately, Child’s Play, Lovesick, Underworld, Lose My Head, Witches, Dirty Mouth
Speaking of which, going to Alice Phoebe Lou concerts is still a bit hipster. And that there were almost as many fans with mustaches, unusual hairstyles and floral dresses in the packed Lucerna Music Bar as at the recent launch of the excellent comic “Srdcovka” by Štěpánka Jislova. Well, the majority. The singer from South Africa, who has been working in Berlin for many years, returned to the scene in her thirties, because although she is still releasing new material, she cannot yet be considered an artist who could venture into a bigger space. And as Monday’s performance showed, it probably won’t change much in the future.
“Hey guys, how are you? Sorry, I’m a bit unprepared,” she stated in the introduction as she readied her guitar. “It’s a bit of déjà vu, being in the same place as the last time, in the same city… But thanks so much for coming,” she added coyly towards the audience. But what exactly is this little lady? Where to put it? These are the questions to which answers were sought in a club full of squealing visitors. Her peaceful music on the border between indie folk and pop is made up of acoustic or electric guitar, which Alice herself plays and has a four-piece band with her as accompaniment. None of her colleagues are in a hurry. It starts at a quarter to ten, and during the evening you don’t get the impression that the musician is rushing to the finish line. On the contrary. The songs flow one after the other, and the sweet protagonist fills the space between them with cute and sometimes even funny conversations with the visitors to gain time to tune the guitar for the next song.
Some songs have been compared to Norah Jones, but Alice Phoebe Lou is not jazzy enough for her. Compared to Beabadoobee, her work is too wooden. Beth Hart is much more dramatic against her and sings much better. Birdy is more pop, and to compare with Eee Gee, Alice is a little purple. At the same time, she sees herself most in Patti Smith, and for many years she also looks up to Portishead, which are names that would certainly not come to mind when listening to her work. As a result, the former dancer with lit torches seems most like a bar singer in the best sense of the word. She enjoys the performance, but doesn’t seem to want to be anything more. What she has is enough for her. And even though she confided in the audience that she and the group have been through several crises since the start of the tour on the tour bus, you don’t get the feeling that anything is wrong while watching her performance. After all, she herself admitted that the longer her performance lasts, the better she feels. On the other hand, you don’t even have warm thoughts about witnessing something extraordinary. Alice Phoebe Lou is not captivating. Not even unique. And by the time he’s playing the eighth song in a row, working his way through the setlist at a medium to slightly slow tempo, it’s getting a little boring. Unfortunately. That the musician herself is aware of this is already indicated by the schedule, so at this moment – just like in any other country – she embarks on the part of the program during which she will be completely alone on stage. But once the band returns, it doesn’t take long for the monotony to strike again. This does not mean that the concert was bad. Not at all. As a person, Alice seems very humble and during the cold winter you will be glad to know her. And you can easily enjoy it at the festival as well. She would fit in beautifully almost anywhere – Rock For People, Colors Of Ostrava, Sziget or even Pohoda, where she already performed in 2017. It is perfect for an early evening program on a smaller stage. But that she would make it to the type charts “100 Female Artists You Must Hear Before You Die”? It’s not really a threat. But it was nice.