When iconic Brighton venue The Haunt announced its closure over the summer, many weren’t sure what to expect when yet another place for live music was gone. Then it was announced that Chalk would be taking its place: a bigger, better venue, with the ability to adjust its capacity for all kinds of gigs, from 150 person intimate sets to 825 people.
Enter Irish singer-songwriter Orla Gartland (or as she’s known on tour, Tourla; or as she thinks we call her in the encore, Paula), who has spent several years touring with Dodie as her guitarist and support act, and working on new music in her Secret Demo Club.
The multi-instrumentalist came on stage to Be*Witched’s ‘C’est la Vie’, and started with ‘Between My Teeth’, a song focusing on the necessity of making time for yourself and not taking on everyone else’s problems all the time – a call to the mental health theme repeated throughout her set. She’s open and honest without seeming glib or cheesy, and shares her anxiety and times of rejection without oversharing.
She followed up with September release ‘Did it to Myself’ and ‘Why Am I Like This?, the title track of her latest EP, ending the latter with a mash-up of Taylor Swift’s ‘Style’ – something I didn’t know I needed to have heard until that moment.
Despite the painful areas of her life she’s sharing with us, her experience on stage is evident, as is her comfort with the audience. She enjoyed the Brighton crowd, but really doesn’t want people to feel how she felt when she wrote these songs: “People tell me they really relate to ‘Overthinking’, and I just apologise”.
Older tracks ‘Roots’ and ‘Lonely People’, from her first two EPs, mixed well with heavier, deeper tracks, like soon to be released ‘Oh God’, all about Catholic guilt and sex, and final encore song and her biggest track to date, ‘I Go Crazy’. A personal highlight was her latest single ‘Figure It Out’, all about not dealing well with a break-up and hoping the other person could come to that conclusion by themselves – “It’s not hard to read my mind/when I’m making it so obvious”.
And despite her latest EP, Why Am I Like This?, being released in May 2019, she told us that she’s found the final song to go on her next EP – new song ‘New Friends’, which she tried out in the encore. Chalk was the perfect venue for Orla, providing an intimate experience, however I think this gig proved she’s definitely ready for bigger venues and crowds. That said, she’s definitely a musician who likes to get to know her audience and enjoys a post-gig chat, and there’s something about smaller venues that lend themselves more towards artists trying out new material.
Her rise in popularity has been steady, from her YouTube covers of songs from her bedroom, to having 2013 single Roots as iTunes’ single of the week (remember those?), and now sold out tours across the country. Orla Gartland is definitely worth catching on her next tour.
Find out more about Orla Gartland here.
stream or download ‘Figure It Out’ now: https://orcd.co/orla-figureitout video by Ryan O’ Connor: https://www.instagram.com/ryanoconnor300/ special thanks to Gareth Rowntree lyrics: I know I never said it But I thought that you’d figure it out I see your name light up on my phone I feel a little differently about you