Holly Humberstone teases debut album to a boisterous crowd at NX Newcastle

The singer-songwriter brings charm and sincerity to the stage on her UK tour

Holly Humberstone was a lockdown debut, dropping an EP in the middle of 2020 that quickly gained her a legion of fans. Stepping into the world of live music in 2021 with a ready-made audience must have been jarring, but Humberstone has become an increasingly confident live performer over the last couple of years. Now, standing on the stage of NX Newcastle in front of a crowd of nearly 2,000, she’s chatting away.

Holly Humberstone - Can You Afford To Lose Me? (Official Video)

“I’m a perfectionist,” she tells the crowd. “It takes me a long time to feel good enough about something to release it.” She’s talking about her latest single, ‘Can You Afford To Lose Me?’, a fiercely melodic ballad that floods NX with Humberstone’s vulnerable vocals. It’s going to be on her new album, she says, with a small smile, but she’s working on said album very, very slowly.

Holly Humberstone - The Walls Are Way Too Thin (Official Video)

This short monologue about perfectionism could be a precursor to every song she plays. Humberstone’s writing style is best described as meticulous – there are no wasted lyrics or jarring production choices. It’s one of the reasons she’s risen so quickly from lockdown singer-songwriter to BRIT Rising Star and sought-after live act. From big pop numbers ‘Sleep Tight’ and ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ to ‘Haunted House’, the stripped back ode to her childhood home that casts a hushed spell over the room, each track that Humberstone puts out is a hit.

Holly Humberstone - Sleep Tight (Official Video)

Unlike some of her contemporaries, however, she isn’t trying to be a cool girl. “Okay, sweet,” she mutters into the mic at the end of most of her songs, before the cheering has even begun. “Nice.” She tells stories onstage the same way a friend might chat to you over coffee, with quick changes of direction and plenty of filler words. She frequently thanks the crowd for being nice to her. Humberstone has been performing almost constantly for the last two years in increasingly large venues, to bigger and bigger festival crowds, and later this week she will play a milestone gig at O2 Academy Brixton. She isn’t the nervous newcomer anymore, but her onstage manner still offers a charming contrast to her polished discography. It’s what makes her so much fun to watch.

Holly Humberstone - Scarlett (Official Video)

That’s not to say that Humberstone can’t sling an electric guitar over her shoulders and project popstardom to a packed room when she needs to. Encore track ‘Scarlett’ sees her bring a riotous energy back out with her onto the stage, lighting a fire under an already excited crowd. Then, turning away from a fiery guitar duet, she faces the mic again. “Up the toon!” she says, with a nervous laugh. The room roars.

Holly Humberstone is on tour around the UK until December 4, and will also be supporting Sam Fender in Newcastle next June. Tickets are available here.