Gig Review -Laura Steel – O2 Islington Academy – ‘a popstar with balls of steel!’ @LauraSteelMusic
Gig Review – Laura Steel - O2 Islington Academy 2, October 9th 2012
Forget nerves of steel, this girl definitely has balls of steel!
When I was first invited to review Laura Steel at the 02 Islington Academy, I did my usual background check routine – a bit of YouTubing, a bit of Googling, and, in this case, a lot of downloading music. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of her, because her personality and demeanour is so alluring!
I was ushered into a little dressing room to interview Laura, immediately I warmed to her bubbly and friendly personality but I also was drawn to her fashion choices, this girls knows how to rock an accessory! Laura has received a new ASOS delivery that morning and was wearing an amazing ring and some huge wedged heels from the selection she had received.
We also talked about her pre-show nerves and the lack of sleep that comes with being a pop-star – “I’m so nervous – I don’t even know why!” she exclaimed. “I was desperate for sleep last night, so I had to Google ‘music to make you sleep’ and it gave me the sounds of rain. When my manager, Selena, saw what I’d been listening to on Spotify she just said ‘what the hell have you been doing?!’”.
The quirky personality of Laura is always present in the room but the devoted musician is equally present as we got onto the subject of stepping out onto the stage. “I guess the bigger your career gets the more pressure and the more people from the industry come to watch you.’ Laura explained, it sounds like she is pretty harsh on herself though stating ‘I’m the world’s worst self-critic!”
This blonde bombshell from Sheffield certainly had a lot to say, but not in a bad way (although she apologised for babbling a few times, I loved hearing about her lifestyle and what she’s been getting up to!). But when I told her about what I’d read about her and the kick-ass woman I’d been expecting, she knew exactly what I was talking about.
“People either describe me as cute on stage or feisty, which I don’t really understand. Criticisms still affect me – I can be a sensitive girl.”
I couldn’t wait to start digging into the world of Laura and where she got her inspirations from, having been compared to huge icons such as Madonna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in the past.
“I like to research current music, although I’m a huge fan of 80’s rock,” she said, before telling me about her favourite artists. “I like the 80’s synth pop with the likes of Bowie, Queen and Eurhythmics. Performance-wise I’m inspired by the big divas like Pink and Gwen Stefani – she’s my idol!”
“But the most researched artist is Lady Gaga. She’s so normal when she’s stripped back, which is what makes it so special.”
Then we got chatting about the history of Laura Steel – where did this diva-come-girl-next-door start?
“I went to fashion school originally, and I’ve been doing music for 4 years. There have been drastic changes in my life – I’ve lived in Miami before now and I loved the positive way of thinking in the USA. I was never really pushed into music at school though. I played Rizzo in our version of Grease but other than that I just got crappy roles. It bruised my ego a bit, but I didn’t give up on music.”
Laura decided to go down the route of art and fashion but still kept up the Viola and French Horn (instruments that she said were useless as she got older) and kept working on her piano playing. She was also a bit of a geek at school – she took an extra GCSE in Statistics (“don’t ask me why!”) and got involved with lots of extra-curricular activities. She then took an Art Foundation and was persuaded to go into fashion, before choosing a more musical lifestyle – and thank goodness she did, or I would never have got to watch her perform!
Laura also writes her own lyrics and it was interesting to hear how they all came about. “In the beginning, my lyrics were a bit tongue in cheek and silly, but I think now my set list kind of reflects my personality. I mean, I’m not going to write a ballad about farting! They range from deep to stupid to emotional – I didn’t know I could cry writing lyrics.”
She also went on to tell me about friendships through the business of music, something that she called a ‘journey of self-discovery’.
“My closest friends are ones that I can not see for 2 years, then jump on the sofa, have a cuddle and watch a film like I’ve never been away. One of my best friends is my manager, Selena. I guess friendships just change with age.”
I then had to get one question off of my chest about THAT tattoo. I’d read that she had some sort of cryptic tattoo, and I was intrigued about why she chose the design on her arm. She told me it represented Sheffield as a knife, fork and spoon.
“I was going to get Made in Sheffield tattooed on me but my friends said it was too chavvy and they would disown me! I got it done in LA, so as well as representing my hometown, I can say I got it done in America as part of my career. The cutlery is for Sheffield, a town known for food, and because my surname is Steel.”
My attention then turned back to those shoes that I was very envious of, and Laura told me that she doesn’t normally follow trends; she’s normally behind or in front of the latest fashion.
“I used to get bullied in school, but it made me go even more over the top. One day I came into school wearing a bindi spot and people said ‘what the hell is that?’ so the next day, I came in with a bigger one and face jewels all around it. I liked to stand out more than I liked the attention, whether it was good or bad!”
Unfortunately, the interview had to end somewhere (even though I could have chatted with her for ages!) but I needed to ask what was on the bill for Laura Steel in the coming months.
Laura is releasing her new single Overdrive in November and Kriminal in early 2013. She’s just waiting for the word ‘go’ and then she can record an album, which she is just itching to do, and wants to encourage fans to come to live gigs.
I then eagerly awaited her presence on the stage in an intimate yet modern bar. The rock-chick-come-popstar made us wait for a good 20 minutes longer than scheduled, but boy was it worth it. Donning a LBD trimmed with shocking pink, Laura took to the stage and opened with Boom Bang Bang. Lyrics “we don’t mess around” were totally appropriate here – the kickass attitude in her was clear to see.
Her energy in conversation completely transferred over to the stage and she was un-phased by fans despite her nerves. She reminded me of a more mature version of Amelia Lily – it could just be the accent and the blonde hair, but her music also had similar vibes. She was charismatic and had a stage presence that stole everybody’s attention, along with a great relationship with the band.
“This is the nervous-est I’ve ever been!” she said after one song. “This is my life and I love it.” She was a very humble artist too, and continually thanked the crowd for turning up. Beneath the superstar performer, there is an appreciative, hard-working, talented artist.
Her vocals were flawless and her cheeky nature shone through in Faked It, which got the most response from the audience. She then joined the crowd to show them how to dance, and it was clear she was not only born for the stage, but born to be a performer.
The highlights of the night were her cover of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games, which had a dirtier bass and had her own stamp on it. The talent she has as a lyricist was most apparent in the only slow song of the set about heartbreak, where she also played the keyboard.
However my favourite song of the night was ‘More’, as she left the audience completely and utterly wanting more, and she relished in the screaming fans. Finishing her set, she was coaxed back onto the stage to a chant of ‘Laura!’ and had transformed into a new outfit – a short silver dress, and she looked stunning!
Having a go at the drums herself, she gave us all a cracking send off and the quirky high-heeled Sheffield star stole the night in Islington. The only question I have left is: when can I see her again?!
Words by Holly Braine, edited by Sarah H.
Follow Holly on Twitter - https://twitter.com/hollieeemary
More on Laura Steel and her social media links at http://www.misslaurasteel.com/#home