Lauren Mayberry’s Solo Transformation: Indie Pop Perfection Live at The Troubadour Review+Photos: Lauren Mayberry at The Troubadour 9/29/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- The long list of frontmen and women stepping out from the safety of their band settings to pursue solo careers is riddled with examples of both brilliance and misadventure. Remember when Billy Corgan or Mick Jagger released their solo projects? Not ringing a bell? Precisely. Such endeavors always pose the risk of an artist’s departure from the sound that “made” them, which can either result in a welcome transformation or an unfortunate miscalculation.
It was with this cautious intrigue that fans entered The Troubadour, waiting to witness Lauren Mayberry, once under the electronic synths of Chvrches, in her new avatar.
But before Lauren, the evening was set alight by singer-songwriter Alaska Reid, who I had last seen in 2017 at the Echoplex. For those unfamiliar, Alaska Reid’s past work effortlessly blurs the lines between raw, indie expressions and beautifully crafted lyricism. With her delicate balance of poignant narrative and dreamlike sonic elements, Reid’s performance worked as the ideal precursor to the night’s main event.
She really set a mood in the room. She performed solo, without the backing of band, so the music may have been toned down a bit, but one could feel the buzz in the crowd as she cooed her melodies. It really felt like each individual in the room was connecting with Alaska and her music. She recently released a new album, and I’ll have to definitely “press play” on that when time permits.
Then, under the dim lights, as a recording of Liza Minelli’s “Maybe This Time” blared through the house speakers, with anticipations high, Lauren took the stage. For those expecting the indie electronic sound of Churches, the night was full of surprises. Lauren’s new direction was decidedly indie pop, but it suited her impeccably. Her tracks were imbued with catchy hooks and her delivery, nothing short of irresistible. A clear standout in her setlist was “Shame”. And speaking of which, in a cheeky nod, Lauren had the name bejeweled on her cheek, while incidentally, the British punk band Shame was holding court across town.
Every song was a testament to Lauren’s incredible range, not just in voice, but in performance. It was evident she’d put thought into every aspect. Even in such an intimate venue like The Troubadour, her numbers were carefully choreographed, oozing energy and vivacity. This wasn’t a diluted version of a superstar, but rather an artist reveling in the joy of intimate live music.
Her humor, too, was unabashedly on display. She quipped about her height, or the lack thereof, and a humorous wardrobe malfunction with her skirt taking a journey north. Yet it was the regional nods that made the night even more special. Understanding her limited solo repertoire, Lauren added a personal touch by covering a regional favorite at every stop. For The Troubadour, it was a heartrending rendition of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”. A touch that not only showcased her versatility but also her understanding of her audience.
However, the true pièce de résistance was her finale, “Sorry, Etc.”. A throbbing, frenetic track with undeniable Death Grips undertones. It revealed a raw, aggressive, and quite unexpected facet of Lauren that was both surprising and deeply captivating. It was clear from the murmurs in the crowd – we all wanted more of *this* Lauren.
All in all, Lauren Mayberry’s venture into solo territory isn’t just promising, it’s an assertive statement. She isn’t here to ride on past successes but to carve out a niche for herself. It’s a brave, commendable leap, proving that when done right, solo journeys can indeed echo louder than one’s past.
The night at The Troubadour was more than just about music; it was a lesson in evolution, a reminder that artists, like all of us, have myriad shades. And sometimes, it takes a bold step out of the shadows of familiarity to truly shine. Lauren Mayberry, with her new solo endeavor, is dazzling brighter than ever.