wed 17/04/2024

Paloma Faith, Brighton Centre | reviews, news & interviews

Paloma Faith, Brighton Centre

Paloma Faith, Brighton Centre

Soul girl with big personality takes the audience with her, eventually

Paloma sneers at the super-rich

Paloma Faith has been on the front pages lately. Winning the Brit Award for Best Female Solo Artist 2015, following two previous unsuccessful nominations, has done her profile no harm. A few songs in tonight she squats down behind the grand piano and announces, “There’s a little thing round here,” then triumphantly produces her Brit, dedicating it to her audience.

Aside from the Brit, much media interest was roused by her bold move asking Owen Jones, political journalist and author of the books Chavs and The Establishment, to be her touring support act.

Prior to her performance she brings the famously boyish Jones onstage and we’re treated to an invigorating quarter of an hour state-of-the-nation polemic. “Don’t let the people at the top of society keep screwing us over,” he demands while continually returning to the theme that we must maintain hope. “Make sure you use your vote this election,” adds Faith at the end, and they’re gone.

When she first popped up half a decade ago there were aspects of Paloma Faith that were off-putting: the amount of calculated managerial artifice surrounding her; the way she appeared among a wave of similar artists in the wake of Amy Winehouse’s phenomenal success; interviews with women’s magazines where she sounded like a homeopathic new age kook. Was she merely a burlesque edition Joss Stone?

As a performer she’s already at the top of her game

As it turns out, no, she’s not, although her show is certainly based on old soul revues. The stage set is raised, stepped, and white, like a luxury 1920s cruise liner. Around it her band cavort throughout the evening: dreadlocked female backing singers, a self-consciously feisty male brass section, a grand piano, double bass and drums (all white), and a keyboard-playing percussionist. Faith is dressed in a black and transparent PVC party dress. She kicks off with “Changing”, last year’s chart-topper by Sigma which she fronted, turning it from drum & bass pop into a sassy R&B jam, followed by “Mouth to Mouth” and the ebullient “30 Minute Love Affair”. Then she takes one of her many chat breaks.

These are what make the concert. Faith’s music fits within retro-futurist soul-pop parameters but her persona is unpredictable, likeably unrehearsed, a cackling, passionate, mischievous, elfin girl-next-door. “If you wanted it perfect you’d be at a Madonna show,” she giggles then she’s off into “Impossible Heart”, the one that sounds a little like Sheila B Devotion’s disco classic “Spacer”. She tells us she’s going to treat us to a greatest hits set and proceeds to do so.

The crowd are an all-ages bunch but initially not very lively. There’s way too much viewing through phones and iPads. Indeed, someone in front of me spends half the concert editing his crappy films and photos rather than watching the proceedings. I just don’t get it. Nor does Paloma who keeps entreating us to be livelier, to dance more. At one point she brings on Ty Tailor from support act Vintage Trouble to duet with her. “There are too many boys-next-door and not enough sexy boys,” she leers naughtily at him.

There’s plenty of comic chat (she sighs that we can pick up her first album for 99p at any BP garage in a blue bucket by the cash till), she plays arguably her greatest song, the house-tempo torch number “Picking up the Pieces” from 2012’s Fall to Grace album, and she even has us do massed yoga breathing exercises, but the night only eventually catches fire when she lets rip with the snappy R&B funk of “New York”, and heads out into the audience, wandering across the seats row by row. It’s a real moment and the audience suddenly wakes up, realises they’re only here for a finite amount of time and starts to party. From here on it flies and Faith’s gospel-disco extravaganza takes off.

She has them roaring for more by the encore. This consists of last year’s hit ballad “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”, an excuse for more lying about on the grand piano, followed by the Pharrell Williams-penned funk-fest “Can’t Rely on You”, before concluding with a gigantic version of Ike & Tine Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High”, exploding with boogie-woogie spirit and zest. Faith has true star quality. I have a feeling that musically, her best, most personal and imaginative output is yet to come, but as a performer she’s already at the top of her game.

Overleaf: Watch Paloma Faith in concert at T in the Park 2013

Faith’s music fits within retro-futurist soul-pop parameters but her persona is unpredictable


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters