Kent based singer/songwriter Will Varley’s latest UK tour ended in spectacular style last night at London’s Scala, as what was easily the most high-profile gig of his career sold every available ticket. Following support from Molly’s Lips and Xlyaroo, Varley’s set went down a storm with gig-goers, and there was never any doubt at how far Varley had come in his career.
It felt odd watching Varley walk out on to a stage in front of a room literally packed to the brim with people who had all come down from various dark corners of London and the realms beyond. Much like the man himself, I’ve become somewhat acclimatised to watching him play in small pubs to a far smaller crowd, so seeing this remarkable progression inspires something akin to pride. It also felt a little odd watching him walk out onto that stage to greet a room full of people who had come to see him. The last time I had the pleasure of watching Varley perform (and it is, always, a pleasure), he was the first support act on Frank Turner’s UK tour back in November. While his performance at Alexandra Palace supporting Mr Turner in November was brilliant, by comparison, last night’s gig blew any that came before it out of the water. How far he’s come as a performer since then.
Of course now, Varley has his own headline UK tour behind him, so perhaps that’s helped inspire a sense of ownership in his gigs that, in retrospect, may have been lacking a little in previous gigs. Walking out to a massive cheer with a four-pack of Guinness in one hand and his guitar in the other, his hour-and-a-half long set was among the best I’ve experienced; even if placing two of his most emotionally charged songs, The Man Who Fell To Earth and From Halcyon, next to each other early in the set list hit everybody in the room right in the feels. It was particularly lovely to hear a brand new song last night as well. It’s another of Varley’s emotionally charged songs, and quite simply, beautiful. As his guitar plucked away sweetly and Varley’s simple melodies combined with his emotive lyrics, he commanded the respect and undivided attention of everybody in the room (even those irritating hecklers in the back row).
Cracking open his third can of Guinness, Varley welcomed back to the stage his support act Molly’s Lips, who accompanied him on several of his more energetic numbers. The general anger at the political establishment was never clearer during We Don’t Believe You, which just seems to get better every time it’s played, and as he eventually announced his final song of the night, the atmosphere turned to one of bittersweet nostalgia as he Seized the Night, before returning for an encore of what are now perhaps his most well-known tunes, King For A King and I Got This Email.
This was a night to remember, certainly. Scala is a great venue and suits Varley so well – it’s like a bigger version of The Monarch in Camden – and even if pints are £5, you couldn’t help but have a great time. Despite the irritating hecklers and the occasional lyric slip-up which has started to become customary in any Varley gig, last night’s show was a true 5-star performance from everybody involved. A huge well done to Mr Varley on a great gig and a great tour – eagerly awaiting the next one!
Will Varley’s latest studio album Postcards From Ursa Minor is available now on Xtra Mile Recordings. For more information on the man himself, visit his website.
Feature Image Credit: Luke Vogel
This review was also published on Folk and Honey on 11.03.16.