Paloma Faith at Cambridge Corn Exchange
Who can wear a yellow jump suit? Hang on, let me rephrase that… Who can wear a yellow jumpsuit and pull it off? (First in a metaphorical manner, though later it must have been quite literally pulled off.)
As she walked onto the stage, with large pink feathers hiding her face, Paloma Faith immediately had a strong stage presence. Her hair a little crazy and wearing sunglasses that might more commonly be modelled by a six year old, it didn’t take long to realise that Paloma dresses like this because she wants to. Whilst she might not be as out there as Gaga, her outfits – yes plural – managed to create a stir amongst the audience.
Prior to her arrival on stage, the audience were awakened by the musical activity of La Shark. I have to credit them as providing me with the most enthusiastic performance I’ve ever witnessed; Jumping off amps and encouraging the audience to jog on the spot throughout a song of theirs proved to be all too entertaining. Oh, and if that’s not enough, they also sang a song in French. Which astounded me given my current relationship with the language from across the channel (I like to think we share a mutual hatred.) Musically, they weren’t exactly to my taste, but as live performers I genuinely enjoyed their set.
Opening with Smoke and Mirrors, the stage had been made to look like a 1920’s room complete with, you guessed it: smoke and mirrors. As the evening progressed, Paloma sang through nearly all the tracks from her album, as well as her own personal homage to Billie Holiday (who was a total unknown to me) and a cover of a song I’d never heard of The Beatles.
Instead of singing the album version of Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? a remix version was performed. It was more electronic than the original and allowed for Paloma’s very smiley guitarist to perform an impressive solo as she made her way behind the central mirror for a costume change. Arriving back on stage in a dress embellished with shards of mirrors and a beret, Paloma blended into the set design perfectly. Her ability to wear obscure fashion, left me bewildered as I stood in my jeans, plain top and Primark leather jacket.
Other highlights of the show included her latest single Upside Down, my personal favourite Stone Cold Sober and a performance of Romance Is Dead in which a middle aged guy from the audience was dragged up on stage to be serenaded by Paloma.
To end the show, she burst into New York. However this was not the same song that she’d got into the charts with. Oh no, this was the “Start spreading the news / we’re leaving today” version. Of course, this only lasted for a verse or so before the familiar beat of the Paloma-penned track could be heard and, almost faultlessly, the song changed from one to the other.
One thing was, however, missing from her performance. After her first two songs, she produced some sheets of paper and took them over to her guitarist to read for her. “I’m sorry but I’ve lost my voice and so my band will be speaking for me” he declared. I missed the banter, anecdotes and jokes that so often make a good show great. There were times when Paloma broke her vow of silence to apologise once more for her dying voice (she even tweeted her apologies after the show), yet I can understand that she needed to savour it for her performances. She appeared to hit all the right notes despite the strain that must have been weighing heavily on her voice.