Live at Stylus, Leeds 11th November 2023
With her new album out the day before – “you might not know all the words” – Baby Queen is riding high but she’s underestimated her audience – I hear the words of ‘Kid Genius’ belting out behind me. “It’s my baby”, says Bella Latham, alter-ego of Baby Queen, and plays the whole album, interspersed with other older tracks, filling 80 minutes before a frantically popular signing session on the merch stand.
It’s a hard-working, bouncy show, with the guitarist particularly keyed to posing and playing to Bella’s moods. The Baby Queen herself is jumping, spinning, moving on those platform soles, commenting “it’s the highest stage we’ve had and they said ‘don’t wear a skirt’ so…..” and she gestures at her outfit as she plays up her contradictory style. The album is beautifully energetic and pop in its production and it takes effort, energy and skill to translate the produced oomph onto the live stage.
There’s a lot of energy, a lot of running about till quieter moments, where she moves behind the keyboard to play more thoughtful songs and talk her thinking through – the challenge in approaching twenty-five, the self evaluation and questioning. At one point she calls it becoming an adult. Then there’s ‘A Letter To Myself at 17′, which she approaches on acoustic guitar, perched on a stool. In a long chatty intro, she tells us not to wait till we are perfect to do things, to live life now. Sadly, the venue screw up the sound by turning it up to boomy. This audience is rapt, in awe of Bella and are so quiet at that point it just isn’t needed. Trust the Gen Z audience in their sensitivity. ‘Obvious’ works better, on piano.
It’s the big bangers that win me over. The punchy ‘Love Killer’ and the bouncy, sardonic ‘Die Alone’ – “Everybody’s got somebody, I’ve got a TV / Everybody’s got somebody, I’ve got ADD / All my friends keep asking who I’m hiding in my sheets, I just have to tell them ‘Mario and Princess Peach’”. ‘Raw Thoughts’ is another loud bouncy winner and by the time ‘I Can’t Get My Shit Together’ arrives, Latham and the crowd are bouncing off the walls.
A double encore starts with the punked up rocker, ‘Want Me’, and ends with the glorious album-opener of ‘We Can Be Anything’. I wish the gig had started with this – I’ve heard people waiting for it, Baby Queen’s new anthem. The evening has been fun and celebratory as well as an all-round nice place to be, with an excited but happy and friendly audience, accepting and safe.
We’ve got a review of the album here: