Live Review: The Last Dinner Party // HMV Vault, Birmingham, 07.02.2024

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Celebrating the release of their debut album, Prelude to Ecstasy, The Last Dinner Party delivered a delicious acoustic performance at HMV Vault, Birmingham, on February 7. The quintet recently won a BRIT Rising Star Award and have been named BBC Radio 1’s Sound of 2024, but shone with pride on a small stage at the back of the record shop.

The evening opened with ‘Beautiful Boy’, a choral track that is both lamenting and wistful in its exploration of masculinity and gender envy. This nuanced tenderness continued into ‘On Your Side’, with vocals from Abigail Morris, Lizzie Mayland and Aurora Nishevci blending into an angelic soundscape.

Usually one of the more grandiose performances at their concerts, ‘Caesar on a TV Screen’ triumphed acoustically too. With its satirical commentary on fragile, performative masculinity, Morris retained her powerful vocals against Emily Roberts’ gentle guitar, creating a dynamic performance with seamless ebbs and flows. The Last Dinner Party’s second release, ‘Sinner’, has also become a firm favourite during live performances. Tonight’s acoustic rendition included the original intro to ‘Sinner’, written and sung by Mayland, which reflects on their experience moving from a small town to London and the liberation that came with it.

Performed acoustically for the first time live, ‘Portrait of a Dead Girl’ was mesmerising. Accompanied by gentle keys and guitar strums, the evocative lyrics took centre stage: “don’t have the strength to pin me down / the time I wasted in your mouth / waves that crashed against your chest / over and over again”. Vivid imagery continued in ‘Mirror’, musing on the male gaze with haunting vulnerability. Against sparse instrumentals and a captivated audience, Morris’ emotive vocals swelled from the stage.

‘Nothing Matters’ was an inevitably joyful end to the set. The track originated as a slower piano ballad before morphing into an explosion of baroque-pop artistry, with tonight’s acoustic version paying homage to its humbler beginnings. The versatility of the song, and band themselves, is unmistakable. 

It was beautiful to watch a maximalist band play a stripped-back show, allowing velvet vocals, delicate keys and intricate guitar strums to shine. Chatting to attendees and signing records after the show, it was clear that The Last Dinner Party value real connection with their audiences, staying true to their roots in London’s live music scene. The band return to Birmingham in October, and are sure to be welcomed back with open arms.

Words by Emily Whitchurch


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