21 year old rising star, Lulu James, graced the stage of the XOYO Shoreditch with her captivating performance and exceptional live vocals. Having released a few singles to date including her debut EP ‘Rope Mirage’, ‘Be Safe’, ‘Closer’ and the most recent ‘Step By Step’, the South Shields singer has maintained a sense of mystery and intrigue about her, while constantly gaining momentum. Lulu’s headline show at XOYO was no exception and her captivating performance and superior vocal ability were showcased front and centre to a packed out venue.

Bursting onto the stage with effective, yet blinding lights, Lulu made her grand entrance wearing a unique feline mask. The sultry and atmospheric track immediately set the scene for the evening, while Lulu’s vocals soared above in ‘Bittersweet’. Having self-described her vibe as ‘21st century soul’, Lulu’s effortlessly smooth and soulful vocals were further highlighted in ‘Be Safe’; a classic R&B track with a contemporary twist and subtle hints of drum ‘n’ bass. Lulu has such a commanding presence on stage as she echoes between the deep electronic textures, looped percussions and hard hitting beats.

Lulu graciously interacted with the crowd, giving a brief intro to the track ‘The End’, which was influenced by the film “Trainspotting”. The atmospheric track made effective use of heart beat pulses and flat-line sound effects, further emphasising the intensity of the track and production slickness. After making a quick costume change, Lulu returned with the slow tempo ‘Reasonable’ before chatting with the crowd in her friendly Geordie accent: “Can you understand me better now?"

‘Sweetest Thing’ brought a welcome change of pace as Lulu engaged the crowd in the anthemic refrain, while the entire crowd raised their hands in the air from side to side singing: “Say it again you’re my best friend. We’ll be together until the end of time”. The catchy hook, featuring the exceptional vocal talents of the XOYO audience, is set to feature on the debut album, marking this special moment in Lulu’s headline London set. Accompanied on stage by an energetic band, the track “Ride” saw the introduction of some funk guitars, as well as Lulu’s humorous nature, in which she asked the crowd “Do you like this track? Good, cause I’m trying to get a car advertisement with it!”

Up next were the infectious house vibes of ‘Step By Step; a subtle dance floor track with repetitive synths and Lulu’s smooth commanding vocals. Written by Dave Okumu from ‘The Invisible’ and co-writer and producer of Jessie Ware’s album ‘Devotion’, Step by Step is essentially about taking it step by step with her fans. After tonight’s performance, she’s certainly earned a few more fans to take this exciting journey with her. Lulu grooved to the pulsating rhythms and infectious beats of ‘Closer’, before asking the crowd to pledge allegiance in support of her career. After one impressive set, the crowd had no trepidations and recited in confidence “I promise to love and support Lulu James Bitches for life – Amen!” Lulu closed her headline set with ‘Halfway to Hell’; a tribal infused track that erupted in a sense of chaos, dramatic vocals and head banging, all of which was met with rapturous applause.

Having recently performed at Lovebox, as well as supporting Jessie Ware and Laura Mvula, this rising star is sure to be making waves with upcoming performances at Bestival and Electric Picnic, followed by supporting Annie Mac Presents on tour this November. With a debut album on the way, Lulu has already enlisted the help of producers Hostage, Kidnap Kid and Dave Okumu in what will no doubt be an exciting debut release.

- Roisin Deady

Released: Thu 8th Aug 2013