LIVE: Allison Weiss / Jenny Owen Youngs / Yellowbirdd @ Barfly, London

By Ben Tipple

As main support Jenny Owen Youngs joins Allison Weiss on stage for a full band rendition of ‘Good Way’, it feels like we are part of the clique. Not an elitist one, but rather the one that would sit around a campfire on the beach drinking a few cold beers; the outcast clique, undoubtedly far cooler than the self-labelled “cool” group doing something ten-times inferior somewhere else. Tonight we’re in the fold, and it’s brilliant and heart-breaking all at once.

Brilliant in style, from Yellowbirdd’s (also the bassist in Weiss’ full band) haunting tales to Youngs’ occasional X-Files themed tunes, both accompanied by jovial banter – Youngs delivering an impromptu stand-up set following some early technical difficulties. Heart-breaking in sound; even Weiss’ upbeat delivery can’t hide the sometimes gut-wrenching lyrics hiding underneath. All three sing of love with an honest conviction, journeying through the many trials and tribulations of relationships in one evening.

All are masters of their art, be it Yellowbirdd’s emotion, Youngs’ quirky delivery and awe-inspiring vocals or Weiss’, well, everything. Bringing her full band to the UK for the first time, it’s a Weiss we have never seen before. The melodies are elevated to stadium proportions, beaming with an on-stage confidence that could propel Weiss to festival main stage territory with ease. Far from running the risk of losing the intimacy, it remains impossible not to feel every word coming out of Weiss’ mouth. As she laughs at her own song-writing prowess before launching into ‘Motorbike’, it does nothing to distract from the simple yet empowering chorus.

Weiss transforms material from last year’s ‘New Love’ in a live setting, from the atmospheric build of set and album opener ‘The Sound’ to the anthemic title-track and blistering ‘Who We Are’, these words clearly mean so much to so many. An icon of the underrepresented, her between song patter builds on the personal atmosphere. Declaring her engagement and her hope that it will bring an end to speculation over the boys who spawned these lyrics, she jokes: “They got it wrong on so many levels.”

Euphoric throughout, the set builds up to her energetic pop opus encore, ‘Back To Me’ which sees Weiss discard her guitar to become the pop-queen burning inside of her. She bounds around the stage and orchestrates the crowd, all the while still tugging on those heartstrings. Set closer ‘I Was An Island’ welcomes a jubilant face-lift and the biggest singalong of the night. “I can’t do this alone anymore,” Weiss triumphantly sings, and with tonight’s sense of real togetherness it feels like nobody will ever have to.