On Friday, September 16, the lights went down at the Fremont Theatre as Welsh indie rock and folk artist Novo Amor took the stage for the second serene and dreamy set of his North American tour. Novo Amor drew a large crowd to the Fremont for a remarkably intimate night full of intriguing visuals, poignant lyricism and layered instrumentals.
Ali Lacey was joined by three other musicians on stage as he switched between the electric and acoustic guitar and the keyboard. Multi-instrumentalist Ed Tullett, also known as Lowswimmer, was unfortunately out sick, becoming a running joke between Lacey and the crowd throughout the night.
Lacey opened on the guitar with a memorable rendition of “Opaline,” bringing the entire audience to sing along, and then picked up the pace with “Utican.”
Lacey moved through the first minutes of the performance without saying much, until he greeted the crowd after the third song, asking if anybody wanted a Twix bar that he had on his keyboard. He expressed his gratitude to be in the “Happiest city in America” as he conversed with the audience about his experience so far on tour.
The setlist was composed of around 20 songs from across his discography, but mostly featured songs from the 2020 record “Cannot Be, Whatsoever” and earlier records “Birthplace” and “Heiress.” Among the more memorable moments of the night were the performances of the heartbreaking song “I Feel Better,” disguised under catchy and fast-paced instrumentals, and the crowd favorite “Anchor” from the 2017 record “Bathing Beach.”
Many of Novo Amor’s songs began slow, with a simple but beautiful guitar or keyboard melody that eventually crescendoed into something that may have appeared in a coming-of-age movie or on an M83 album. Some of these songs included “Carry You,” “Birdcage” and “If We’re Being Honest.”
Lacey offered little explanations of the songs he performed, but the music spoke for itself. Through soprano vocals and introspective lyrics, Lacey discussed the futility of words when the universe falls around you, when there is difficulty in trusting yourself amidst a sea of desperation and heartbreak, and when becoming passive to your own life because of love.
The show ended with rare performances of “Oh, Round Lake” and “From Gold,” both of which had the crowd swaying, singing and even tearing up at certain parts. Throughout the night, Novo Amor seemed to reach into each audience member’s soul and create a unique connection between people, music, and the human condition.
Novo Amor will stop in Portland on September 19th for the next show of their North American tour and continue up the coast and throughout the country for the rest of the year.