The last time Laura Jane graced the UK with her presence was in November 2011, when Against Me! supported Frank Turner. What an amazing difference two years can make – she’s back to play a one-off acoustic show in Kingston’s Banquet Records to the hundred or so fans who managed to get their hands on a ticket; lucky, since it sold out in seconds.
At 6 o’clock, the room rapidly filled up, and Laura Jane Grace (*****) stood behind the counter on a makeshift stage. She opened with True Trans Soul Rebel from Against Me!’s new album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Although Laura seemed somewhat shy and reserved when talking to the audience between songs, when she sang she was powerful, confident and loud as hell, which worked surprisingly well for a solo acoustic performance.
The set mostly consisted of new songs, interspersed with older ones, including Pints of Guinness Make You Strong and Sink Florida Sink. Her acoustic versions of the new songs sounded great, particularly the angry Black Me Out, which had the whole room yelling ‘Black me out, I wanna piss on the walls of your house’ at the top of their lungs.
Many of the songs from Transgender Dysphoria Blues are perhaps some of the darkest Grace has ever written, and her performance of songs like Two Coffins and Unconditional Love were passionate, packed with emotion, and quite moving to watch. The crowd response was, unsurprisingly, fantastic; you could feel the collective excitement in the room, and although the new album has been over for little over a month, every word was sung back at full volume.
At around an hour long, it was a lengthier set that you would normally see at an in-store gig; and yet it still didn’t feel long enough. After the show, though, Laura made sure to say hello to everyone, spending a good half hour signing and taking photos with fans. It is always a treat to see such great musicians in intimate settings, and Laura absolutely killed it tonight. With any luck, she’ll be back in the UK to play with Against Me! before too long.