05/10/2019 | Grace Petrie – St John the Evangelist, Oxford

Lisa Ward

When themes of welfare, workfare, and walls nestle within your setlist it would be easy for the night to become a sombre affair, but in the space of 90 minutes, Grace Petrie manages to take us on a journey that contains rage, mourning, laughter and hope in equal measures.

For most, it’s probably hard to think up a song about zero-hours contracts but it’s apparently not that hard for Petrie, who also manages to take it a step further, ensuring the crowd are hollering “monkeys” and “nowt” at the tops of their voices in the chorus of You Pay Peanuts You Get Monkeys (You Pay Nothing You Get Nowt). Elsewhere she ensures the snowflakes are causing an avalanche and adds in a few pops at Trump for good measure.

While it’s easy, then, to fathom Petrie’s political leanings she manages to deliver them in a way that creates a sense of urgency and humour in equal measures. Suffice to say if Petrie is leading the next protest march it’s will be done with a degree of wry irony and laughter. Nevertheless, it’s not all politics and Ivy is a touching ode to her niece and Nobody Knows That I’m A Fraud speaks to the imposter syndrome that I expect many in Oxford feel is all too familiar.

It’s Black Tie, however, that unsurprisingly captures the crowd, with almost every single person here singing along. The song, which speaks of the issues facing those of us from LGBTQ+
communities has clearly increased her fanbase ten-fold, moving her from the much smaller Old Fires Station to a sold-out St John the Evangelist in the space of a year, and rightly so. Anyone who can wrap the line “and the images that fucked ya, were a patriarchal structure” into a song about how it feels to grow up as a lesbian woman deserves every ounce of success she’s gained.