BIRDY has acquired something of a mythical status in music. Barely 20, yet ingrained in popular culture thanks to her skill at writing heartfelt, evocative music that television and film producers can't get enough of, a headline tour beginning at London's Eventim Apollo feels like a brand new chapter. Long strands of material drift down to the stage like sea fronds; lit up in watery blues and greens. And in the middle of this, Birdy sits at her piano, resplendent in a shimmering, translucent cape like the mermaid from her video for Wild Horses.
Keeping the small talk to a minimum, she performs a seamless run through material from her third album, Beautiful Lies, and various covers of fellow artists: Hear You Calling, used as the intro in the BBC's Our Girl, is fuelled by a wistful melancholy for lost innocence, while Skinny Love, the Bon Iver cover that rocketed her into the public consciousness at the age of 14, is just as affecting as it first was. It's strange to think how few artists are willing to cover others in their live shows: in the time of Birdy's great-uncle, Dirk Bogarde, it was common practice for entertainers like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to sing one another's songs - if you can make the song your own, why not?
Silhouette in the encore segues into a gorgeous version of Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush, nodding to the artist's 22-date residency at the same venue in 2014, while a duet with her magnificent support Dan Owen for Let It All Go recalls the haunting chemistry on Snow Patrol's Set The Fire To The Third Bar with Martha Wainwright. Closing the show with a rousing performance of Keeping Your Head Up, Birdy nods to Florence and the Machine with its ambitious high notes, spectral howls and dramatic flourish.