At the infamous Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, a disco ball shimmers along a pitch black floor. Ruby red lights glow along onyx-coated walls. Hard rock music blares over the speakers as guests saunter in and await the arrival of Dublin’s budding rock superstar, Lesley Roy.
A mixture of 20 and 30-somethings crowd the small, upstairs room. They are mostly members of Tinseltown’s underground crowd, unpretentious, casual, cool and ready to rock and roll. Clad in sneakers, flip flops and plaid shirts, they sipped from bottles of beer and chilled glasses of Pinot Grigio and cluttered the candle-sprinkled mirrored bar before the show began.
As showtime neared, the room became packed with about 75 people as the band strummed guitars for sound checks behind the curtain.
Thick curtains opened to reveal Roy wearing small casual silver chains, blue jeans and a cranberry colored top. Her blonde hair, blowing, Roy started strumming the guitar in leather cuffs as the crowd cheered.
“I’m doing a very 80’s wind machine,” Roy said. “I don’t know if you noticed.”
Roy’s smooth, yet raspy voice belted out songs, demanded the attention of the audience and commanded the stage. She started out by singing “Hey You.” Then, “Slow Goodbye,” a ballad she wrote with Katy Perry of “I Kissed a Girl” fame.
This wasn’t an act about dancing and entertaining the crowd with guitar rifts—Roy has been playing the guitar since the age of 10 and could’ve wooed the crowd with guitar solos.
Instead, this show was about the music and the crowd didn’t seem to mind. They were transfixed, bobbing their heads, eyes leaving the stage only to sip from their bottlenecks. They sang along, cheered and whispered to friends “She’s good!”
“Anyone been in a relationship when you want to get back at them,” Roy asked the audience in an Irish lilt. “This song is for you. It’s called Psycho Bitch.”
Roy’s ballads and rock-pop songs are nearly all about relationships—the heartbreak, the joy and the pain. And as she closes her eyes, and strums her fingers rapidly and hard over a cream and black guitar, you start to wonder—who was this guy who inspired an entire album?
The crowd throws up their hands and rocks out. Some jumping up and down and shaking their heads violently.
Roy belts out “Unbeautiful,” singing out heartfelt lyrics about a relationship where she kept asking “where did I go wrong? When did I become unattractive—unbeautiful to you?”
Roy is a talent beyond the age of 21. Her voice is deep, raspy. Its rhythm punches throughout each song. Her soft whispers and loud, gut-wrenching wails of heartbreak seem to flow together seamlessly.
Roy moves on to sing “Thinking Out Loud”, about venting and going through all the thoughts in her head. Screams and cheers of approval from the crowd fill the room. Roy mostly remains at the mic until she performs “Golf Club Song,” a song she dedicated to a friend who couldn’t be at the show. On this song, Roy let loose. She put down her guitar, clapped, jumped around, and bumped hips with the band.
The 21-year-old was born in Dublin, Ireland and has been writing since the age of 14. In fact the only song she didn’t have a hand in writing on her album was “Misfit,” by Desmond Child. Her album “Unbeautiful” is already garnering international buzz, with the debut of her first video, which aired on MTV July 18. Roy, who’s signed to Jive Records, was discovered when she was recording a demo with Religion Music.
Roy is an artist that brings hope to the changing times of music—that the music industry is evolving again bringing pure, raw, unadulterated talent back to the airwaves.