Paloma Faith is currently on an extensive UK tour in preparation for the re-release of A Perfect Contradiction Outsiders’ Edition, and we caught her show in Southend.
Opening the show was bare-foot Californian Brett Dennen. The folk singer/songwriter was joined by guitarist Jamie McLean, and together they performed songs from his newest record Smoke and Mirrors in addition to tracks featured on older releases. The crowd took well to Dennen, with clattering applause at every break, albeit a little talkative during songs.
‘Wild Child’ received the best response of the night, with both teens and the elderly echoing the line “I am a wild child, momma!”. Overall, a great reaction to a relatively unknown artist. Keep an eye out for our interview with Dennen coming soon!
Paloma Faith and her backing band took to the stage at 9pm. Her stage design was beautiful; a cornucopia of white staircases and podiums for each member of her band, and her 90 minute set was a non-stop party.
Faith’s third album, A Perfect Contradiction, broke into the UK charts at number two when it was released in March, and is The successor to Fall To Grace, featuring numerous icons including Raphael Saadig and John Legend. Whilst on stage, Faith remarked that her management team pushed her to get A Perfect Contradiction out before she felt it was finished, hence the re-release with additional tracks.
Faith was undeniably one of the best performers that this reviewer has encountered in a long time. Her beautiful and pure voice standing hand in hand with Motown beats ensured that, for the full set, the crowd’s eyes were glued to the stage. She commanded the attention of the audience and created an ethereal atmosphere throughout the entire auditorium. The Hackney-born singer took her time to converse with the audience during her set, her thick accent juxtaposed with her Sinatra-esque backdrop making for an almost comical yet ingenious sensory display.
When we say that Faith didn’t break a note all night, we’re not exaggerating. The crowd may have been a little limp, but it didn’t stop her from giving her the performance her all. Although a showbiz star who has graced our eyes and ears for the last few years, many songs didn’t get the recognition they deserved – mostly due to the fact that they were unknown. However, Faith has a gift for familiarising you to songs you’ve never heard of, only for them to disappear from memory once the song has ended. Even if you had never heard of Paloma, you’d still be able to feel an emotional connection to her music.
This show was unlike most concerts; the only intention being to immerse you in nostalgia, glitz and glamour – words which are now synonymous with Faith. ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ was certainly a highlight of the night, and a cover of ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ caught the attention of those lingering at the bar, and rightfully so. Not many can do justice to such a classic song, but the East London crooner completely smashed it. A few new songs made their way into the setlist, including ‘Ready For The Good Life’ and ‘Leave When I’m Not Looking.’
The evening was punctuated by heartbreaking lyrics, incredible theatricality, Motown beats and stunning jazz arrangements, fronted by Paloma Faith’s unapologetically zealous character. It was, in every way, the perfect contradiction.