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Live Review: Billy Lockett – 12th December 2023 – XOYO, London, UK

4 min read

Billy Lockett was someone who I’d heard of but not really heard sing before, with the unenviable comparison as ‘the English Lewis Capaldi’ – in part (and a little bit lazily, in my opinion), due to both singers having their struggles with Tourette’s.

Initially to have been at the Camden Assembly, the rearranged venue of XOYO was one that had me equally annoyed (I live near Camden) and intrigued (I’ve frequented XOYO on more than a few Techno nights), so I was looking forward to see not only if the voice and the tracks matched up to the hype with Billy Lockett, but also how XOYO would fare as a more traditional venue for gigs – it’s a, shall I say, ‘non-standard’ shaped-venue.

Billy took to the stage slightly after 8pm, looking very ‘sports casual’ to a round of whoops and cheers – to say he has a very loyal core of fans would be an understatement.  Packed in to the oddly shaped 800-capacity venue, it was immediately clear Billy was not only a fantastic pianist and singer, but also very comfortable on stage with some great interactions with the crowd, which began at the very start with a faulty microphone which was turned into a lengthy piano piece (which was actually very good).

Covered in Chaos began actual proceedings to a round of ‘Aawww’s from the crowd – “You’re allowed to sing” he humorously quipped mid-song before hitting the chorus, which broke the tension to quite a few laughs…  and they did sing the chorus – every word!  During proceedings it came to the fore that Billy’s mum was in the crowd “She normally brings her own light” he exclaimed to more laughs as the spotlight whirled round to illuminate mother Lockett.

Billy did some Q&A with the audience in between songs, which I think worked very well in an intimate venue such as this, where he covered topics such as waiting for ‘that hit’, how he copes with his Tourette’s and how it differentiates from Capaldi’s (Lockett gets calmer on stage so his flare ups tend not to happen when he’s performing). He has an air of authenticity and likeability about him, which comes across well in those moments.

A high point of the set came in his second song Empty House, which I find myself singing the chorus at random points whilst writing this review the following day.  The crowd sang along to the chorus – the crowd sang along to every chorus of every song to be fair!  It’s clear Lockett and his songs are very well thought of by his fans, and it’s clear he thinks very highly of them too.  There was a great flow to his set, it felt like someone actually thought about and cared about the order of his set.  The only non-positive I could raise is that a few of the songs are a touch samey – not that I’m suggesting delving into death metal, and I love a good ‘Debbie Downer’ song, but what felt like ten of them on the bounce tested my boundaries!!

Later in the set we were treated to a new song – as yet untitled, about someone in his family has bipolar depression (as Billy humorously exclaimed, “get the mosh pit ready”), and later a duet of Talk with special guest, Matt Cardle (winner of The X Factor in 2010). Billy introduced him as someone who he was meant to write a song with four or five months ago, but they ended up sunbathing!  “Fuck! I hope he’s here”.  After singing Talk, Cardle left the stage and a large whoop emanated from the crowd – “that sounded like my mum” Lockett exclaimed, to a chorus of laughter from the crowd.  “Could be anyone in the crowd. My main audience are mums.  Shout out to all the mums!!”

His penultimate tune is probably his biggest to date. Hard Act To Follow was sung word for word by the crowd, whilst he used a moment before his encore song, I Could Use A Friend, to let the crowd know that this was probably the best moment of entire life.  I left the venue believing him, but also believing the best is yet to come.

Setlist:

Together at hHome
Covered in Chaos
Empty House
Call Me In The Morning
New Song (untitled)
Blackmail kiss
Last thing on your mind
Miss missing you
Hard Act to Follow
I Could Use A Friend

Photos by Gavin Wallace