I can’t remember whether the age-old industry tip is ‘play like it’s your last show ever’ or ‘play like you don’t know who is watching’ but either way, Lawrence Preston does both. Admittedly, it’s partly out of necessity that he plays like this- the musician’s trip across the pond clashes with England’s opening World Cup match, meaning he draws a criminally small crowd- but Preston’s showmanship is indisputable. From the moment he steps out into the Library at Cambridge’s CB2 with his accompanying guitarist, he works the room like it’s the o2 arena.
The San Francisco musician’s confidence alone is destined for much bigger venues, not to mention his virtuoso bass chops and surprisingly powerful soul vocal, which slides up to show-stopping notes with ease. Every detail of the set is tailored for an unforgettable show. Where other artists explain the origins of their songs with a detached ‘this is about a break-up’, Lawrence delivers each well-crafted anecdote with the same regard for the audience as he would when playing a song.
After a handful of roof-raising soul numbers, when the crowd’s attention would naturally start to waver, he brings on backing duo The Celestial Stars who add yet more pizzazz to the show with their harmonious croons and ear-to-ear smiles. The set draws to a close with his calling card single ‘Something For You’ prompting cheers from an audience now on their feet. And despite the meager turn-out, he’s ensured every punter walks away feeling like they’ve witnessed a real show. Lawrence leaves us with no doubt that his next trip across the pond will see him make even bigger waves.