Paloma Faith, Roundhouse, live review
Written for The Telegraph [28/5/14]
Paloma Faith looks the part but her performance couldn't always match style with substance
For anyone vaguely familiar with Paloma Faith’s powerful pop hits and retro-inspired, big-haired looks, they might expect a singer bursting with character. Following double platinum sales for her first two albums and a string of Brit Awards nominations, the 32-year-old has more than enough success to sing and dance about. Dressed last night in patent leather trousers and killer heels, aesthetically Faith burst with confidence and style but in her performance, couldn’t always match it with substance.
Her third album, A Perfect Contradiction, released this March, is full of the kind of soul, Motown and jazz styles she grew up with and her new songs were executed with impeccable panache by the East London native and her bandmates. With a voice like Faith’s – bold and full-bodied – she is more than capable of carrying a tune but it was nowhere near as much fun without her three backing singers bellowing harmonies or simply swaying in time to the beat.
As a consequence, it was often easy to forget that this was a Paloma Faith show, not a Paloma Faith And Friends show. It was only until she took vocal control on her 2009 debut single, Stone Cold Sober, that she began to feel like a real pop star. Shimmying or cracking jokes about the tightness of her trousers, she slowly but surely started to engage with the audience.
After a gratifying though full-on first half of big belters, Faith thankfully turned to calmer numbers, including a cover of Van Morrison’s Crazy Love where her voice was at its most compelling, cradled by a beautifully plucked guitar. Another cover, this time of Womack & Womack’s Teardrops, was also impossibly tight and full of warmth that filled the room.
Though Faith’s cabaret-like persona is visually all glitz and glamour, she stressed her normality, slurping on tea between songs, and was especially self-deprecating about her latest single and biggest hit to date, Only Love Can Hurt Like This, which she pointed out was written by Diane Warren. “You always get the truth from me”, she smiled.
Another recent single, Can’t Rely On You, came from man of the moment Pharrell Williams, and finished the night off on an upbeat note with his trademark snaking funk melody, syncopated percussion and glorious brass. Once again, Faith gave credit where credit was due.
It wasn’t quite enough to add real depth to the show but Faith obviously appreciates live music is theatre, and she puts on a rather good act.