Stuart Rook’s music is heavily influenced, according to his own promotion material, by everything from Bruce Springsteen to Billy Bragg, from Bloc Party to Simon & Garfunkel and from Florence Welch to the Manic Street Preachers.
It is indie pop rock at its best and is made all the more impressive by the fact it is played by a band that completely runs itself, from promotion to production. Indeed, it was a breath of fresh air to see Stu at the sound deck literally seconds before taking to the stage fine tuning things to make sure their biggest gig to date was perfect. Stuart on vocals, keyboard and guitar, Charlotte Austen on vocals and bass, Tom Cooper on guitar and vocals and Johnny Colgan on drums are the quartet at the heart of this band which is completely run by Stuart in a DIY style with no manager, publicist, agent or funding. Nothing about the results is anything but highly polished. It really fills my heart with pride that bands like this are out there producing music of this quality. It’s affirmation for me that the music scene in this country is alive and well and is everything I love to promote.
Lux Lisbon was initially started way back in 2010 when Stuart and Charlotte left Nottingham University and put the band together. They are, for the record, named after a character in ‘The Virgin Suicides’, a well known book and movie from the nineties. Now, they are usually a four piece with guest brass adding to the on stage presence. Tom on guitar has a very fine band of his own called Kuqi, and is in fact Charlotte’s cousin and the newest addition, since 2014, to the line up. The first time I came across them was when I was researching some stuff on the Killers and there was a reference in the comments to Stuart of Lux Lisbon sounding like Brandon Flowers. I looked them up online, heard the excellent ‘Get Some Scars’, and added them to my Songkick, a great app that keeps me in touch as to when bands are touring. Then in June of last year on a hot night I got to see them play at The Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush with Kuqi in excellent support and have been a fan ever since. So, when I saw, last December, that they would be playing at Scala I didn’t hesitate in buying tickets. It would be the biggest venue the band would be playing and came at the end of a seven date UK Tour.
Last night saw the band take to the stage after 9 o clock and launch straight into their trade mark sound. It was clear that many of the sold out crowd had seen the band before and sang along to all their favourites. It was, however, great that they played some excellent new material last night which pleased the crowd. ‘Memento Mori’, ‘Heart is a Weapon’, and finale song, ‘Get Some Scars’, got the biggest cheers of the night but alongside these well known numbers which showcase Stuart’s excellent voice and boundless enthusiasm, Charlotte really stands out in the songs, ‘Devil’s got me Dancing’, and the lovely, ‘Sunshine’, when she gets to sing alone on the stage under a single spotlight highlighting her lovely tone.
When I saw the band play last time they covered Queen’s, ‘Under Pressure’, a brave choice, but excellently done. In fact I had a chat with Stuart on Twitter as to how well they had sung such a huge tune. I remember seeing that played live by Queen at Wembley and he told me he had watched the video a thousand times. This time, they sang another massive cover by belting out Bowie’s ‘Heroes’: Stuart is big fan of the recently lost legend and he did it full justice. It was a graceful tribute on a night when we learned of the loss of yet another music legend with the news that the wonderful Prince had passed away. I had learned of Prince’s passing on the way to the gig and it seemed fitting to be watching music on the night he left us. Thank you Lux Lisbon for another great night and for making the dark clouds disappear. It’s important that bands like this get to bring their music to a wider audience so please check them out here.