Ben Jolley attended Holly Humberstone's concert at The Engine Shed in Lincoln on Mother's Day (Sunday March 10). Here's his review.

Sporting sunglasses indoors, Alaskan country music artist Medium Build warmed the venue up with anecdotes about his day in Lincoln - including visiting the cathedral, Greggs and running around the arboretum.

Performing with just his electric guitar and a bassist/keyboardist, his songs proved effortlessly captivating and it was easy to see why he was chosen as the opening act for Holly Humberstone’s current UK and European tour.

Talking of Holly, the artist from nearby Grantham was back in Lincoln for a much-anticipated hometown gig. And, despite it being a Sunday night and Mother’s Day, that didn’t stopped the local crowd - including her own mum and grandma, and many other mums and daughters - from turning out to show their support. 

Ahead of her arrival (in-front of a gothic backdrop consisting of a string cobweb and her name in cubed capitals), the lights faded to black at just gone 9pm. Strobes flashed and the letters illuminated in different colours as she and her band members - including drummer, keys player, and bassist - took to the stage. 

The instantly recognisable chords and catchy choruses of ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’ and ‘Into My Room’ kicked the set off brilliantly, the latter’s electric guitar solo sending it into stadium-sized territory. 

“I had my first ever gig in The Swan, a pub nearby here, so it feels really special and full circle to be here,” Humberstone told the audience, many of whom were likely there that night too. 

Across one hour-and-15-minutes, the discography-spanning setlist constantly delivered, with audience members regularly holding their phone cameras in the air. ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ was met with a pocket of friends jumping along together, while ‘Vanilla’ saw Holly have a riff-off with her guitarist.

The atmosphere softened shortly after, as she stood centre stage, illuminated by a singular neon pink strobe, for ‘Kissing In Swimming Pools’. Complete with huge Americana guitar riffs, it quickly became an anthem. The fast-paced beat resumed for ‘Cocoon’, as “icon” Medium Build (whose album is out April 5) returned to perform the galloping song with her. 

Then came the lead single from an upcoming EP of tracks she had forgotten about, ‘Dive’. Thank god she remembered she had written it, because its yet another fan favourite. 

As much as her songs are huge, she was incredibly humble about her success when talking to the crowd. “I put my first song out about four years ago and never ever expected anything to come from it,” she said, recalling moving back in with her parents at the start of lockdown.

Before she brought the audience to a pin-drop silence with that breakthrough single, ‘Deep End’, Humberstone explained its importance: “it reminds me how lucky I am to have people people supporting me, and to have you all here”. 

The storytelling continued, as she reflected on moving into London… “with no friends, living in a real sketchy flat and locking myself in my room and writing a load of songs about being depressed”. Such emotions were effortlessly conveyed via her piano-led rendition of ‘London Is Lonely’, which recalled the soul-bearing honesty of Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Driver’s Licence’.  

‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’, meanwhile, channelled the piano-pop of ‘Green Light’-era Lorde. The mood changed seconds later for ‘Elvis Impersonators’, a sad song written about missing one of her four sisters when they moved to Japan. Another contrast, the pulsating beats of ‘Flatlining’ recalled Finneas’ productions for Billie Eilish. 

“Thanks for such a lovely welcome back to Lincolnshire,” Humberstone signed off, before giving all the other mums and grandmas in the crowd a shout out: “you guys rock!” 

An unforgettable homecoming from a local hero.