After two years of re-scheduling show dates and a tentative return to live music across the UK, London-based songwriter A.A. Williams delivered a stunning performance that showcased her heavy sound in all its glory at Lafayette last night.
A classically trained multi-instrumentalist, Williams’ blending of post-rock and post-classical elements has a hypnotising quality, one that was clearly appreciated by her silent crowd. It’s rare to hear a venue so quiet between songs, but Williams congregation remained devotedly still throughout her set.
Performing songs from her debut album Forever Blue, which she released in 2020, Williams opened the show with an exquisite rendition of ‘All I Asked For (Was To End It All)’. Her soft vocals floated above beguiling keys before heavy riffs and percussion broke the spell and dominated the track’s closing minute. What’s obvious throughout the set is Williams’ and her bandmate’s impressive instinct for volume fluctuation. Her balancing between loud and quiet is the lifeblood of Forever Blue, and it’s something that translates beautifully into a live setting.
Suited in black and playing her guitar in the spotlight, Williams cut a calm and captivating figure, enhanced by her ability to switch from a fragile-sounding exhale of words to a powerful extended vocal. Her voice was occasionally lost in the flood of heavy, feverish sound, but in the moments where it did cut through, it made for intense and cathartic listening, effortlessly elevating the rapturous mood.
It’s hard to pick standout tracks from the set, as Williams’ performance had a whole, defined, cinematic quality to it. Her poignant renditions of ‘Dirt’, ‘Fearless’ and the emotionally raw ‘I’m Fine’ made listeners hold their collective breath, but closing her set with ‘Melt’ was undoubtedly a highlight. The smouldering, brooding track was stripped of its more melancholic feel once the blitz-like volume change kicked in, once again displaying Williams’ and her bandmate’s instincts for intricately cauterizing the ear drums.
Taking time to thank her fans between songs and genuinely appreciative of their applause at the end of the show, A.A. Williams provided an aural tonic of intense, beautifully executed sound at Lafayette, proving that the two year wait to hear her poetic ruminations on Forever Blue was well and truly worth it.