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Holly Humberstone Concert Review: Rising Indie Star Returns to Boston

Holly Humberstone performs a sold-out show in Los Angeles from her 2021 international tour.
Holly Humberstone performs a sold-out show in Los Angeles from her 2021 international tour. By Courtesy of Holly Humberstone / Interscope / Polydor Records
By Anaiah B. Thomas, Crimson Staff Writer

Holly Humberstone, a British songwriter and 2022 recipient of the prestigious “Rising Star” BRIT Award, returned to Boston on May 3 as the opening act for Olivia Rodrigo’s sold out, highly-anticipated Sour Tour. Humberstone visited Boston for the first time this past March as the opener for Girl in Red’s national tour, which wrapped up in April. But now, after touring the northeast with Rodrigo from New York to Ontario and back down to Massachusetts for months in the spring, Humberstone’s second ever appearance in the city cements her status as one of the most exciting indie artists to watch. Needless to say, her intimate performance at the brand-new Roadrunner stage garnered a very warm welcome.

The pop artist performed her newest single “Sleep Tight,” which was released just four days prior to the show. The song is about nostalgia and was aptly inspired by the new sense of freedom experienced at the end of the Covid-19 lockdown. “I wrote the song during the first summer out of lockdown which was a pretty crazy time for my friends and me,” Humberstone had told Rolling Stone’s Tomás Mier in late April.

On stage, Humberstone kept it both simple and intimate. She took the stage solo, accompanied only by her guitar, keyboard, and a huge black tapestry covered in signatories as a backdrop. Her songs find their strength in the stories they tell about specific experiences and people in her life. And before each track she shared a short preamble about those inspirations. “Deep End,” for instance, which was the fifth in her setlist, was written for her sister who struggles with her mental health. “I always find it really hard to watch someone that I care about so much struggle and not know how to help,” she said to her Boston audience. “I wrote her a song saying I don’t really understand what you’re going through, but I love you and I’m here for you.”

Her next track in the set was her current number one Spotify hit: “London Is Lonely.” This song explains her experience moving from her small hometown to the city, leaving behind her friends and three sisters. “So many people, it's so easy to get lost sometimes / And this winter is going on too long / Though it don't snow here, it stays pretty cold and I miss your warmth,” Humberstone sings. As her voice carries over the song’s melody, she effortlessly narrates her experience and that of the many students in her audience who had moved from their temperate towns, full of loved ones, to live in the Boston chill.

Humberstone then performed “Scarlett,” a song for her best friend who was going through a rough break up. “It really upset me to see her feeling rubbish about herself,” the artist said, creating a welcoming air of friendship that surrounded her and the thousands of people packed into the vast music venue, “so I wrote her a song to try to make her feel better.” The candor she succeeded in fostering between her and the audience was evident throughout her performance, exemplifying her undeniable capacity to move her fans through her expertly produced tracks.

With the Sour Tour’s conclusion on May 25, Humberstone has plans to hit the road again in November, this time as a headliner, on her recently-announced Sleep Tight Tour.

—Staff writer Anaiah B. Thomas can be reached at anaiah.thomas@thecrimson.com

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