Alex Lahey, from the moment she took the stage in Lakewood Wednesday night, appeared ready to perform for a large crowd.
The Australian singer and guitarist had the swagger, personality, comedic timing and presence to command a room full of 2,000 concertgoers. She effortlessly led the crowd in a singalong of the wordless portion of closer “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself,” extending the four-minute tune into something much more epic.
It was one of the best rock shows in the Cleveland area so far this year. Too bad fewer than 40 people showed up for the show at Mahall’s.
Lahey has proved to be one of the most talented acts in indie rock. With two albums (the last being 2019’s The Best of Luck Club
), an EP and a smattering of singles and covers under her belt, she has yet to release a dud.
Wednesday’s show was just as a strong as her recorded output, if not stronger. Opening with “Am I Doing It Right?”, the musician strummed her yellow Fender Telecaster through 60 minutes of melodic, punky, indie rock gems. Her able three-piece backing band provided enough power and deft finesse to complement her lyrics about insecurity, love and just having fun.
Her set at Mahall’s came on an off-night from a string of dates opening for punks The Regrettes. Lahey was scheduled to play more dates but said from stage that the Lakewood show was unexpectedly her last on the tour. (Update: Regrettes lead singer Lydia Night had emergency appendix surgery and the band had to reschedule the rest of the tour's dates
She did not give a reason at the time, but it’s a shame. It takes a special kind of performer to turn Faith Hill’s lame 1998 county-pop hit “This Kiss” into a memorable concert moment (which she did by turning it into a power-pop raver).
Throughout it all, Lahey never appeared to break a sweat. From flying through the words in “I Love You Like a Brother” to channeling Nirvana with the guitar progression on “Misery Guts” to playing some 80s-tastic saxophone riffs on “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself,” she made it all seem effortless.
It was the performance of an artist who could (and should) be destined for bigger things on this side of the Pacific. A show people will talk about years later and claim that “I saw her when she played at Mahall’s and there were fewer than 40 people there.”
It’s too bad so few will have such bragging rights.
Cleveland’s Grumpy Plum opened with a 30-minute set of guitar-driven indie rock. The trio intends to release its first album this year. The songs played Wednesday sounded great and showed that the band has a lot of potential, especially when the performance had the energy to let the songs fully take off live.