Stage Times: Lucy Spraggan

The singer-songwriter recalls her best, worst and weirdest gigs, from local tram festivals to supporting Robbie in the rain

Lucy Spraggan is chilling out. With her return to headline touring on the horizon, the singer/songwriter is taking a zen approach to preparations. “My dressing room is the calmest space,” she says. “There’s a playlist on Spotify called ‘Dreamy Forest Music’, and it’s like soundscape-y music. I have soft lighting in the dressing room and incense and candles, because I just want to like reserve every single ounce of energy before I get on stage. The ritual is like being very calm before the show. Then it literally goes from zero to 100.”

10 years on from her viral X Factor audition, Spraggan might have her routine down by now, but as is the case for any performer, she’s played quite a few chaotic shows along the way. We sat down with the singer ahead of her UK tour to chat about some of her most memorable live performances.

The One That Made You Want To Play Music

We didn’t really go and watch that much live music. It wasn’t really that much of a thing. But I used to go to the acoustic nights in pubs with my family when I was really young. I remember watching people playing guitar – some of the most talented musicians in the world, you can catch them on a Thursday night at 20:00, three beers in, and they’re jamming out on stage. A lot of my musical education came from just being in pubs my whole life.

Lucy Spraggan Feat. Robbie Williams - Sober (Official Music Video)

The First

I was 12, and it was at Crich Tram Festival, which is a tram museum. It was in an old fashioned tram carriage that ran around this museum. It was acoustic and there were a few people in the tram. I remember it really vividly because a) it was my first gig, and b) it was in an old tram.

How did you come to play a gig at a tram festival?

I grew up in Derbyshire, and there’s a radio station called High Peak Radio. I’d been going to this Club Acoustics since I was 11, which was an acoustic night. This man there knew a guy at High Peak radio, so he sent in my EP, and then they started playing it on High Peak radio. The guy who sent the CD also knew the person who ran Crich Tram Festival, which is literally a tram festival, not about music. But he said, “Hey, you should have some music.” And that was it.

The Biggest

I supported Robbie Williams at Sandringham Palace in July, to maybe 20 to 30,000 people –it could have actually been more. I’m quite good at guessing how many people are in a room, but at Robbie Williams, I looked out and I was thought, “Do you know what, that’s just a lot of people.” But it was great. It pissed it down for the entire support slot but I am thankful because then it was nice and dry for Robbie’s show.

Does playing in the rain bother you?

No, but I’ve actually played some festivals where I’ve been rained off. I got on stage for this one festival, and I played one song, and then there was thunder and lightning and they were like, “You have to come offstage.” They were checking the clock, then they sent me back on to play one more song and that was it. That was my shortest, wettest gig ever!

Lucy Spraggan - Last Night (Beer Fear) (Official Video)

The Smallest

I actually know the answer to this question. I did a North America tour in 2019, just before the COVID lockdown, and I played in Wisconsin to seven people. The bar actually held 1,000 people and there were seven people at the front on these tables and chairs. I’m quite a positive person, and instead of being like, “Oh, man, I played to seven people in Wisconsin,” I was like, “I’m playing to seven people in Wisconsin! Seven people in Wisconsin turned up to watch my f*cking gig! That’s amazing.”

It actually ended up being a really fun gig. I’m quite good at taking the piss out of myself. I played in Finland, or maybe Norway, when they were like, “You sold out the venue! There’s 100 people coming to the show.” Then we turned up and they’d forgotten a zero. So it was a 1000-capacity venue with 100 people in it, which is a very different f*cking vibe.

But I’m good at being like, “Well, this is awkward as f*ck everybody. What a wonderful way to start the show.” I’d rather be honest. I think that is a lot of why people come to watch the show, because the music is really honest. It’s just like, “Oh, I feel like this about this thing, and I feel like this about that thing.” I really just talk to the audience like I talk to my friends. I do kind of feel like they’re all my friends a bit. If you can make it feel like you’re all just a load of friends, everybody has a good time.

Lucy Spraggan - Empire (Official Video)

The Worst

When I was about 17, I would take any gig that anyone would give me from the age of about 12 to 19. I was living in Sheffield at the time, and this local promoter was like, “We’ve got this gig. It’s not quite your genre, but do you want to do a support slot?” I was like, “Yeah, f*ck it.” I turned up and it was Wreckless Eric. When I got there, it was slightly-older-than-middle-aged men, all wearing leather and dangly earrings. And there’s me singing covers of f*cking Beyoncé’s ‘Halo’. I’ve never not connected as much with an audience in my life. It was actually painful.

The Best

Every tour, I feel like the shows just get better and better. But one show that stands out for me is Glastonbury 2015. I was playing at 13:00, and I was playing at the acoustic stage, which is quite far from a lot of other stuff. It was quarter to one and I looked out in this f*cking giant tent, and there are four fans standing at the front barrier. I went backstage and I was like, “I’m going to vomit, because this is going to be so embarrassing. I’m gonna play Glastonbury and no one’s gonna be there.”

I walked on stage, and when I say the tent was so full, I mean they had security outside the tent; they couldn’t let any more people in the acoustic tent. We played this show, and to this day, I still remember finishing the end of this song. We hung on the end chord, me and my keys player. Then the screaming was so loud. My first ever Glastonbury was my best gig I’ve ever done. Way for the universe to really drag you down before it before it picks you back up.

Lucy Spraggan - Animal (Official Music Video)

The Weirdest

I’d love to say that there haven’t been any weird ones, but there are so many strange gigs. I’ll tell you what I thought was going to be a strange gig. We played this huge private uni called Hilde Bede. It’s in Durham and the grounds look like Hogwarts. I was like, “Why do they want a Lucy Spraggan gig? They’re at a uni ball. Like, I don’t get it.” The whole day I was like, “This is just gonna be super weird.” But actually, the vibes were given that night. These kids really went down. At the end of the night, the Dean of the University came up and we got into a conversation. He was like, “We actually need some sponsorship for the squash rackets here.” I was like, “Dude, I’ll sponsor the squash rackets.” So I ended up buying some squash rackets for this uni.

Have you been back since?

I haven’t. But I went to an awards ceremony on Friday, and these two girls said, “We were at Hilde Bede!” I was like, “The dean of that f*cking uni is such a G!”

Lucy Spraggan is currently on tour across the UK. Find tickets here.