Lauren Aquilina @ Manchester Academy 2

I last had the pleasure of reviewing Lauren Aquilina on her highly anticipated tour at The Deaf Institute, Manchester, after retiring from music creation. Luckily for myself and her other fans, she unretired and returned with a new sound in 2018 for her single “Psycho”. As an equally dedicated fan of both Lauren and Nina Nesbitt, you can imagine how delighted I was when Aquilina was announced as the tour opener for Nesbitt in Manchester.

Like her show in March, Aquilina opened with “Wicked Game”, from her 2016 album “Isn’t It Strange?”. More high notes were added to this rendition, really showcasing her powerful voice and ability to slide up and down scales with ease. The lyrics are as honest and thought-provoking as the first time I heard them live, especially “He said he didn’t do commitment with tattoos on his skin, maybe I wasn’t worth the pain” and “I’ve been thinking ‘bout death but I’ll hold my breath”.

Next up was “King”, from one of Aquilina’s early E.Ps, a song inspiring enough to reach those of us affected by mental health issues and reminding us that we “can be king again”. With the use of a piano, Aquilina sends a heartfelt message, especially towards the last chorus as you can see the emotion and desperation pleading from her lyrics, “Rid of the monsters inside your head”.

“How Would You Like It?” is my personal favourite track, and it details the intimate, vulnerable and heart-breaking situation of finding out you have been cheated on, and feeling like if the cheating had happened the other way round, perhaps the partner would understand just how deeply their actions had affected their lover, “While you were underneath her skin, did you ever stop and think?”.

I was amused by how Aquilina moved on from such a despondent song to an upbeat and empowering song, “This is about the same ex, but two years on”. “If Looks Could Kill” is Aquilina’s second most recent single and departs from her previous style of piano ballad for a poppy, upbeat song about looking your best and hoping “that it hurts” your ex to realise what they have lost. This song really demonstrates Aquilina’s capabilities, and her ease of moving from a piano ballad to an upbeat song with the same, incredible vocal ability.

“Fools”, a fan favourite was also played, which Aquilina states is about falling in love with your best friend, something which she does “a lot”. Her self-deprecating humour is evident again, with members of the audience whooping to share both their appreciation of honesty in her music, “What if we ruin it all, and we love like fools?”. It’s a classic, timeless song that will never fall out of fashion.

“Psycho” ends the show, which is the song that marked Aquilina’s departure from both music retirement and piano ballads. It’s a scarily funny song with a brilliant narrative, “It’s not lunacy that I know where you’re gonna be” and “I followed your car, now I know where she lives”.

Aquilina’s most recent single “Tobacco In My Sheets” is also played. You would have to be made of stone to not relate to not even one lyric of the songs, and a lot of the audience were clearly moved, hugs and tears were exchanged all around. This is a beautifully written song that Aquilina wrote to her mother, “I’m not a smoker or a drinker, just a crazy overthinker”. The narrative details Aquilina’s drug and tobacco use and the feeling that she is letting her mother down as well as going through an upsetting heartbreak and ending up in situations your parents wouldn’t want you to be in.

Buy “Tobacco In My Sheets” and check out more of Lauren Aquilina’s music, you won’t regret it!

Words Emma Stevens

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