Paloma Faith is quirky, endearing, arty and lives her life as if life is art. Her enthusiasm and engaging attitude is matched by Laura Mvula, supporting ably with a few songs from the new album, most of them hard to categorise in today’s obsessively pigeon-holing music world. That’s good! As a description I’d plump for “African rhythms meets string quartet in a jazzysoulful stylee”. Laura’s also quite arty, if you consider that a good thing (I do) and she’s so likeable and full of enthusiasm for what she does, it’s a refreshing change from those carefully bored or stroppy successful pop stars going through the motions. Lovely tracks like Sing To The Moon, and the fab hit single Green Garden set the mood for Paloma nicely (and she came back to join Paloma on a cover of I Can’t Stand The Rain which was a nice touch, Paloma is generous with her enthusiastic support of others, so well done her!).
Talking of, I’d expected an untypical format for a live gig, and it was as much an art show as a concert, Paloma gently easing the audience in with mellow tracks off the new album before pulling the curtains back for the full backing band and singers and fabulously designed set, sort of Marlene Dietrich-era golden sculptures and effective backdrop, low-level mirrors and stage levels. Bet she designed it! First off, she’s a great soul singer and appeals across a wide age range, and everything is beautifully presented, right down to leaving the stage when introducing each of the band and singers so they got the attention. Like I said, generous and thoughtful. For me, while I like the new stuff (there’s nothing below standard with any of it, I’m just not as familar with it), it was the first album I rushed out to buy, I like the variety of styles more. So, Never Tear Us Apart was my first highlight, a great version of a great INXS song I watched them sing live on the same stage 20 years ago, Michael Hutchence was one of the great unsung rock frontmen, he was seriously on fire. Paloma did good, too! Followed soon after by a trio of singles from the first album, the fab Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful peaking with the awesome New York, one of the great records of recent years. The audience approved….!
Onwards with hints of the direction the next album might take, one great new track, and a few obscure 70’s soul covers from the likes of Candi Staton or better-known classics like Etta James I’d Rather Go Blind. If soul is the next flavour for the 3rd album, hey fine with me…. From hereon it was pulling out the best of the new stuff, for the encore (I wish all acts would follow her example and come back speedily, as she said, we all know it’s coming, the only question is how long you have to wait!) including the big hit single Picking Up The Pieces, clearly the audience fave, and one that I (and the UK public) had under-appreciated, the fabulous Just Be, Paloma lying on the piano to fine affect and to end the evening. I’d go again:)
So my faves on the night:
- New York
- Picking Up The Pieces
- Just Be
- Never Tear Us Apart
- Stone Cold Sober
- Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful
- I’d Rather Go Blind
- Black & Blue
- I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart