FEATURE: FREYA RIDINGS
A review of Ridings' London headline show, and some exclusive comments from her before and after the show.
Freya Ridings is excited to play her very first headline show. She admits to always wanting to perform at St Pancras Old Church. Tonight, some of her friends and family are coming out to support her. "We've got a little surprise for every single person who bought a ticket," she says with a glowing smile while sipping ginger tea - her favourite pre-show drink. Ridings is slightly nervous to perform in front of a full house. Just before going on stage, she quietly excuses herself to do some last minute humming exercises. When she's done, she hugs her bandmates, Ben and Mac. She shyly admits that a hug is part of her "pre-show ritual".
The cellist and guitarist walk out first. It's an intimate gig. The church is packed; probably more than the cap amount of 120 are present. The silence is so stunning it's almost haunting, especially with all the candles lit along the inside parameter of the church. The crowd gives a warm welcome to Ridings as she steps onto the stage and sits down at her Nord keyboard. The first song of the evening is her debut single, Blackout. It's a simple yet beautiful and moving piano ballad with thoughtful dynamics, making it catching and gripping. On the day of release, it was featured on Spotify's "New Music Friday" playlist. Her warm vocals fill the entire room and leave everyone in awe.
Ridings has just finished touring with Irish singer-songwriter, Gavin James. They are both signed to publishing label Good Soldier Songs. For someone whose career is only beginning, Ridings has an impressive amount of confidence. She talks to the audience in between each song and mentions her recent tour experience. Touring helps her connect with people, taking the adventure to a whole new level. She is exercising just that during her show.
The lights at the venue are above expectations. They accentuate the song as they move dynamically on par. Despite her style leaning more towards acoustic, a backing track is being used for Lost. The laptop has suddenly stopped working, but the trio is flawlessly improvising around it.
For Ridings, sitting at a piano evokes an emotional response. All of her feelings seem to rise to the surface during her performance of You Mean The World To Me. She dedicates it to her mother after going through hardships. She soldiers on through the moving song and the audience give her their loudest response yet.
The mix of new and familiar songs is never a bad idea. The next one is a cover of Coldplay's song Maps, a song she admits she wished she wrote. She introduces this as her second single. Ridings puts her twist on it, with an acoustic rendition and slight change in the melodic structure to suit her vocals. The reverb in the church as well as playing with a small band makes for an even fuller sound.
The familiar faces in the audience are a good excuse to try out her new song, Elephant. She jokes about the peculiar title. The song is another ballad, yet her biggest dynamically. This was co-written by Luke Fitton, Kylie Minogue's former guitarist. Ridings has also been collaborating with Andrew Burrows (of Razorlight). Fitton also co-wrote the final song of the evening, Ultraviolet. She describes this as a "wildcard" as it is a piano inspired, electropop song. The style, which is arguably more commercial, fits her greatly, and one she should experiment with more.
Ridings has an impressive number of ballads under her belt, which is interesting considering the electronic time the industry is at. Nevertheless, she manages to have the audience captivated from start to finish. Her stunning vocals and sophisticated lyrics are what make her stand out from the crowd.
After the show, Ridings pops backstage then back out. She's excited to talk to her family, friends and fans. Her big smile speaks for itself. "I just feel this extreme gratitude, I couldn't have imagined a warmer crowd or more beautiful venue to play my first headline show."
She's extremely humble and seems to be surrounded by supportive people. Her next London show is in another church, this time St Giles In The Fields in October. When asked about the style of venues she admits, "I love a venue with a unique character and these have bucketloads."