Phonotonal
Holly Humberstone on stage at Reading Festival, 2023.

Holly Humberstone
Live at Reading Festival

Bouncing onto the stage in a giant pair of New Rocks, the introduction to ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ offered the crowd a sleek pop sound. Holly Humberstone said a quick hello and then dove into the first verse.

The hooky chorus and perfect vocal delivery raised a cheer, and the first bars of ‘Overkill’ were already here. The bass and drums led the way with the guitar gradually adding to the sound. The nearly-a-capella section at the end of the song was a highlight for me.

The lyrical self-loathing of ‘Antichrist’ was given a tender and emotional delivery, though the melody was still sweet.

My personal favourite from the set was ‘Superbloodmoon’ with its building cries of ‘can you see it from where you are?’ When the song finished, I was left wishing it would carry on. This wound was quickly healed when Arlo Parks joined in for ‘Room Service’, which was a cool moment in the set with Arlo’s superb voice adding a verse solo and then in a tight harmony with Holly.

‘Vanilla’ provided the penultimate moment, giving us a great fizz with its chorus and seriously challenging ‘Superbloodmoon’ for the top song in the set for me. ‘I could go on and on and on and on and on, but the truth is: I have my best nights without you!’ Ouch!

The set finished with ‘Scarlett’, one of the more pacey pop numbers, with a strong chorus. I would say that the set was designed with an upward arc, a continual rise. This is a good way to put together a short festival slot (it was around half an hour). It also meant we would have taken more, despite the threat of precipitation (I thought someone was dancing hard and showing me with drink, but it was a brief scattering of raindrops).

Throughout the set, Holly had great backing vocals from Seth (keys/bass), Jack (guitar), and Lauren (drums). The combined vocal sections gave us great rich moments. The sound was polished but maintained the character and emotion of each song.

There’s a new album coming in October. It’s on my shopping list.

Holly Humberstone’s Reading 2023 Set List

Here are all the songs from Holly’s 2023 Reading performance.

  1. The Walls Are Way Too Thin
  2. Overkill
  3. Antichrist
  4. Falling Asleep At The Wheel
  5. Superbloodmoon
  6. Room Service (with Arlo Parks)
  7. Vanilla
  8. Scarlett

Written by Beck on

Michael Beck is a long-time writer for [the-mag] and Phonotonal.
Michael Beck

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