Alice Merton - Gorilla

Alice Merton - GorillaAlice Merton
Gorilla, Manchester
Tuesday 18 October 2022

Alice Merton overcomes a fear of playing live to deliver a lively set of bittersweet pop bangers.

Early on in an unusually long set for this type of act Alice Merton mused that she had used lockdown to do “some work on myself” to overcome a fear of playing live. And that hard work had paid off as Merton proved to be a confident performer who really engages with her growing band of diehard fans. Given the quality of the songwriting it was slightly surprised she had been booked into Gorilla, not the bigger Ritz across the road, but that proved to be a bonus ball for the faithful as they got a big show in a small space.

Working with a rock solid three-piece band on her first club date for three years, Merton wasn’t hiding behind back backing tapes or autotuning as she belted out Vertigo. They say to write about what you know, so there’s genuine emotion as Merton played the piano on the epic break-up number, Same Team.

There’s a whole host of very good young female songwriters around at the moment led by Olivia Rodrigo, but Merton had sailed sightly under the public radar. That will change soon as she can switch from upbeat tunes to more emo-influenced songs like Hero or Mania. Like most acts working in this space Merton actually enjoyed connecting with people who had paid good money to watch the show. She introduced 100 stories as being inspired by a friend whose mom had saved to send him on a year-long world tour when he was 18.

There were moments of levity in the show playing Blindside, she described it as the favourite track on her second album S.I.D.E.S, and was written about a controlling collaborator that she had now ditched. By this point, Merton had really warmed up smashing the bouncy Why So Serious as the crowd sang along to the catchy chorus. After a quick burst of happy birthday to her embarrassed keyboard player she played a new song Wasted Life written during the pandemic. Merton produced a big sign with the chorus on, which proved to be a dream come true for one fan as he was invited to jump onstage to hold it much to his delight.

Merton finished with her massive European hit No Roots – based on her own globetrotting childhood – bouncing up and down in time with people who knew every word. It’s easy to sneer at pop songs until you try and write one, but Alice Merton holds a degree in song composition so knows exactly what she is doing. Next time Merton tours her management should book the larger venue across the road.

You can follow Alice Merton on Facebook and Twitter


Words by Paul Clarke, you can see his author profile here

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