In these troubled times of Gagas and Britneys, a girl’s gotta go that extra mile to stand out in the music business. Luckily, Paloma Faith is no shrinking violet and has been proving this time and time again on her current UK tour.
At every gig, someone always has to go on first and tonight that responsibility fell to indie-folk songstress Josephine Oniyama. Sauntering onto the Usher Hall stage with only her acoustic guitar and one fellow musician for support, she was a low-key and unassuming performer who didn’t initially radiate star quality. However, she managed to virtually silent the inevitable crowd chitter-chatter as soon as she started to strum her way through her short set of beautifully crafted acoustic numbers, delivering each lyric with her organically hypnotic voice. She ended her performance with A Freak A, a clever crowd-pleasure that hinted we will be hearing a lot more from her in the future.
The most interesting thing about watching tonight’s headliner perform was seeing how contrasting she is. On the one hand, she’s a strikingly talented singer with a velvety smooth jazz tone to her voice that needs no add-on frills to hold the attention of her audience. On the other, with her eccentric outfits, extravagant onstage mannerisms and endearing Hackney accent, she’s like a glitzy showbiz caricature. This contrast was most evident during her performances of Just Be, a powerful ballad about the realities of love and Picking up the Pieces, her dance-inducing floor-filler. Whether she was draped atop a piano belting her heart out or wiggling across the stage like a real life Jessica Rabbit, she had the audience eating out the palm of her hand from the start right up to the glittering finale, during which bags of slaughtered fairies seemed to ascend onto the awestruck audience.
A fantastic hour of theatricality underpinned by Faith’s genuine talent.