Omeara is the perfect venue for a Plested gig. With a maximum capacity of 320 people, even tonight’s sold out show felt small and intimate. The intimacy allowed for genuine conversation between songs as if Plested was part of the crowd. Throughout the show a guestbook, to write your favourite lyrics on and The Least That I Could Do CDs were handed out and made the night even more personal, as if we had discovered one of the music world’s best kept secrets.
Supporting acts Holly Humberstone and Sam Johnson provided an emotional opening to the headline act. Both Holly and Sam drew the crowd in with a selection of their haunting and often melancholic songs. Plested’s appearance on stage accompanied by a band was warmly welcomed by fans who probably needed a slightly more uplifting tune to raise their spirits.
After the third song he introduced himself and said he “didn’t realise everyone knew the words”. This statement shows just how humble Plested is. He seemed truly unaware of how much people love his music and mentioned that he was hoping no one would be there so he didn’t have to perform. Throughout the show, he gained confidence and even joked about his “rock and roll” lifestyle. He also teased the crowd with the release of his new music video for The Least That I Could Do that the crowd wouldn’t be able to see yet. Not that it mattered anyway, nothing could possibly be better than watching Plested perform live.
Plested can also be credited with writing successful songs for other artists, like ‘Touch’ by Little Mix, which he performed a stripped back version of. The song could not be further from the girl band’s choreographed energetic shows, and yet, the crowd danced along and sang their hearts out.
One of the more enchanting moments of a packed setlist was Plested’s performance of ‘Priorities’, a song that clearly meant a lot to him as he wrote it when he made the decision to launch his solo career. Similarly, his new single 'The Least That I Could Do' was inspired by his mother, who was watching him perform. He dedicated it to her whilst encouraging us to think about that one person we would do anything for.
As the show drew to an end, Plested explained that he would much rather meet his fans after the show than perform an encore so we should pretend that the penultimate song was the last one. He ended with 'Lost For Words', his way of saying thank you to the audience. When Plested came out after the show to chat with fans, it felt as if he was part of the crowd and had enjoyed the show just as much as everyone else did, if not more.
Photo credit: Chuff Media
Before the show, Strand Magazine had the chance to catch up with Plested and talk about his experience on his first headline tour.
How did you first get into writing music and performing?
I first started when I was a kid and my parents were the type of parents that want you to learn a musical instrument which I was down for. I started with violin and I wasn’t very good. I was bored of reading music and having to follow a certain pattern. So then in secondary school, I started writing a couple of songs and I just kind of ended up getting into music as I left school and it just kind of picked up from there. But I’m very lucky, that’s what I should say.
How’s your first headline tour been so far? Is there anything you haven’t expected?
I am a massive pessimist and I genuinely said to my team, "are you sure you want to do a tour, because I don’t think anyone is going to come..." Luckily, they said "no we’re going to do one", and I went to Dublin first and genuinely, people were there, they were singing along, and I couldn’t believe it. It’s mind-blowing. I didn’t expect anyone to make it so the fact that tonight at Omeara is sold out I’m very confused to be honest.
I found out about you via Maisie Peters-
Yes! The one and only.
Because you both support each other on Instagram. How important is it to you that there is a community of musicians supporting each other and spreading the word?
I think it is probably the most important thing. I always say if I’ve had a bad day I can go home and tell my parents or my friends, but they might not necessarily understand what a bad day in music is. Whereas if I can speak to fellow artists or my peers, they’ll completely get it. They’ll be like: "this is what you can do to counter that". So I think it’s very important that artists are there for each other. It’s a tough job, it’s not easy being on the road all the time and social media on top of it is a struggle. So we can all just be there together we can push each other when we need pushing and hold each other back when we need holding back. It’s the best thing.
I should probably mention there’s a festival called Barn on the Farm and Josh is actually here who runs the festival, he’s a really good friend of mine. His festival is all about artists getting together and collaborating and just being nice to each other. Shout out Barn on the Farm. The best festival.
Nice. What’s that like?
It’s so good, you need to go. It’s any artist like me or Maisie, Lewis Capaldi, Dermot Kennedy. That type of singer-songwriter, it’s where we all go. We all just feel at home there and we’ll go and just join the crowd. We want to be a part of the festival as much as the crowd do so it’s amazing. You must go!
I will, I will. So, your most recent single is called 'The Least That I Could Do', and you described it as easily your favourite song you’ve written. Why is that?
It’s a special song because I remember when I wrote it… I wrote it about three years ago and I’ve had it for a long time but it was the first song that I wrote that I was like I want to keep this, I don’t want to give this to anyone else, I don’t want anyone else to sing it because it meant so much to me. And it just had something special about it. I don’t know what it was, what it is, there’s something when I listen to it, I really love it. So we’ve been waiting a long time to put it out and we just felt like end of 2019 was the right time and we can go into 2020 with the ball rolling and crack on. I just love it. It’s so hard to sing though, it’s so hard to sing but I’m learning, we’re getting there.
And people have been using the hashtag #theleastthaticoulddo to share acts of kindness. What’s it like seeing your music have such a positive impact?
It’s crazy. I think that’s the ultimate goal for music. I want my songs to be out there but there’s no point them being out there unless they’re helping people or having a positive message, so we started that. I think social media right now is just dark and it’s tough on people so I just thought it would be nice. Go do something nice for someone, and it’s working so I love it. It’s really cool.
You’ve written a lot of songs for other big names in music, how does that differ to writing songs for yourself?
Firstly, I’m very lucky. It’s ridiculous what has happened with some of the songs, so I count my blessings for sure. It differs because when I’m writing songs for other people, I can be open to anything and write whatever happens, whatever comes out of my brain. If I’m collaborating, it’s just a nice process of hanging out with someone and getting to know them like Lewis (Capaldi). When I write for myself it’s a lot more from a personal aspect and I really try and perfect everything, to the point where I get stressed because I’m just like: "this needs to be better".
How would you describe your own taste in music, then?
I’m definitely drawn to lyrics, so I will listen to a lot of singer-songwriters, but at the same time I listen to a lot of rappers because I find the way people can manipulate lyrics really interesting. I think I’m like a nerd for words, maybe. But anything that makes me feel good. Anything that makes me feel something. The Dermot Kennedy album is my world right now, I can’t get over it. I’ve just been on tour listening to it and looking out the bus window pretending like I’m in a music video. It’s so good!
Do you feel as a musician you have to listen to listen to lots of music to be aware of what’s going on?
I guess so, yeah. I think I have songs I listen to because I like to listen to them and I have playlists for that, but at the same time I listen to a lot of radio because it’s like market research really. It’s nice to know what people are listening to and how music is being perceived. Yeah, I just love music basically and I’m very lucky to be a part of it; I have to pinch myself every now and then. It’s crazy, why am I here? Do you know what I mean? Why am I having an interview? This is crazy!
So, who inspires you then? Or what inspires you?
What inspires me? Ooh, right now, artist-wise, Bon Iver is incredible. I first started writing songs listening to James Morrison because before him I hadn’t heard anyone who could just stand there with a guitar and just be open. I watch a lot of films, I get a lot of lyric ideas from films just because of the themes and the things that they say are so interesting... So I’m always at the cinema or long-haul flights? I will literally not sleep I’ll just be like, films.
Is there anything we can expect in the future? Have you been working on anything?
Yes, I’ve been doing a lot more collaborating with artists, hopefully some songs will come out. With that thing it’s always like the lottery, you never know. The stars have to align but fingers crossed as I’ve been working with a lot of great singer-songwriters. Then I have a new song of my own coming before the end of the year, I think. We just want to have a little bonus round and then I’m aiming to do another project. I did a project at the end of 2018 called First & Foremost and we want to do a second one of those. So some time in 2020 we’re aiming for a project. Just lots of songs basically. I want to get out as many as possible.
Last question, what are you looking forward to tonight?
Oh my, I don’t know if I’m looking forward to anything. I’m so scared! I’m just looking forward to getting through the first song. Second song, I’m usually like, ok we’re in, we’re cool but I’m really scared.
Does it not get easier?
It does. I think there’s certain gigs that will always… even if you’re playing to stadiums, there’s certain venues that you’re just like uhhh. But as I say, it’s been a dream come true to play this venue. So, I just want to give the fans what they deserve. It’s going to be good.
Edited by Alexia McDonald, Digital Editor