Paloma Faith – Fall To Grace Tour – Hammersmith Apollo London. February 7th 2013
It is impossible to overstate how much Paloma loves London. And how much London loves her. She is now part of the fabric of the city.
Paloma graced the stage at last night’s impressive West London venue (the Robert Cromie designed Hammersmith Apollo – once the Gaumont Palace opened in 1932.) She was in possession of huge silver fans in Art Deco style. She was a vision … she was like some goddess that had just floated down from the top of William Van Alen’s Chrysler Building in New York. And yet, the Londoner within her is just a cute and giggling next door cockney-rebel from Stoke Newington. She has somehow managed to juxtapose these two roles (that she plays,) and curl her way deep into our hearts. Up on stage, she is a beautiful Lempicka style icon. An elegant idol for our degenerate generation. But off stage she is a kindly sister, naughty daughter and your bestest-mate. All rolled into one.
Opening with some beautiful poetic words about her life as a dancer, the show then started with three tracks running effortlessly back-to-back, all from her new album ‘Fall To Grace’.
Songs like “30 Minute Love Affair” [Faith with Chris Braide] which has a bumpy rhythm and a street-wise undercurrent, the songs captured the public’s imagination from the start.
“Beauty of the End” has a tender sugar-plum accompaniment and knowing, clever lyrics. The tone says much to the modern crowd.
Other songs were sadder, like ‘JustBe’ – that steps along gracefully and has a gospel air to it. These songs – or rewarding covers like INXS’s ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ – demonstrate the widest range of Paloma Faith. The voice rises from tiny and delicate tinkle-tinkling sounds – to huge slabs of meaty voice – the booming confidence that reminds you of Dame Shirley Bassey.
Yet, she still does not seem to have been embraced by the industry and the nation in quite the same way as artists such as Emeli Sandé . She is equally talented, both as a performer and as a composer. So why is this? It is something that leaves all her fans baffled. Is it because of her ‘eccentric’ nature and her kooky, dolly-like good looks? Or is it because she is a bit too ‘alternative’. It could even be because she comes across as too door-step cockney…
Continuing on the Art Deco theme, the West London stage was adorned with bold geometric chromium shapes. The group of talented musicians that Paloma had gathered around her were professional and efficient. They provided the drama, tension and undeniable majesty to her enormous vocal expressions . How do sounds so bold belt out from lips so cute? It is a puzzle!
Paloma delighted her longtime fans, by singing a tasty selection of her older numbers. “Those of you who don’t like the stuff on my last album can go to the toilet now” She suggests “Or the bar – but just leave us here to enjoy these old songs…”
We sang along enthusiastically to “Stone Cold Sober”, “New York”, “Upside Down” and the title track “Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?”.
Then we had a heartfelt tribute to an old Etta James number. ( Paloma described Etta as “My teacher at singing…”) Her emotional delivery was comparable. It left us ecstatic. [Something’s Got A Hold On Me -It Must Be Love]
When the heartfelt “Picking Up the Pieces” came [ Faith, Wayne Hector, Tim Powell] Paloma left us gasping for more. Everyone in the auditorium danced, hand-clapped and sang along. Astonishing.
So when the blue curtain swished at the end, the audience – who were still standing – stared in silent wonder at the empty stage. Gobsmacked. But happy.
-© Neil_Mach February 2013 –