Possessing a voice like she does, Lianne La Havas can barely put a foot wrong tonight as she picks her way through two albums worth of soulful and rarely anything less than electrifying material. Rallying off ‘Green & Gold’, ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’ and ‘Au Cinema’ without breaking a sweat, the only time we see beneath the early cool-as-fuck façade is when La Havas’ cinematic smile betrays her seriousness. A smile which, now out of the bag, seems to light up the venue between each song. When she smiles, giggles, thanks the crowd and her bandmates it just becomes part of the whole cool-as-fuck thing anyway. And besides, a cheeky and gorgeously stripped back version of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ weaved into the ending of ‘Au Cinema’ tells us where we are now.
‘What You Don’t Do’ is the first time we hear the pipes open up as La Havas elevates from staccato to soaring falsetto with nothing more than a flick of her head and a drop of her shoulder. Unfortunately the delicate nature of ‘Wonderful’ and ‘Ghost’ mean that the momentum slightly rescinds before a solo version of the stunning ‘No Room For Doubt’ doesn’t just move the goalposts it starts a whole new game (a special mention must go to her guitar playing at this point; simultaneously fingertip-light and robust). This is the introspective part of the set as La Havas is accompanied by just keys for a heartfelt version of ‘Lost & Found’, and depending on your perspective it either showcases a deft ability to shift between styles and tempos or, at worst, it’s a contrast between genres that could be slightly better alloyed. Most important in all of this is performance however, and La Havas’ voice never dips below astonishing. During ‘Grow’, aided by the crowd, she takes it up another notch and the folkier tenets of the previous offerings are swiftly replaced with soul again. Loathe to make comparisons like this, but how refreshing it is to have a female vocalist in the vein of Adele but minus the histrionics and crocodile tears. Like somebody yoked Adele and Sade, these are the peers with which Lianne La Havas now finds her work jostling for prominence.
As a slick and downright sleazy version of ‘Tokyo’ brings the set to a close, La Havas informs us that “there might be one or two more”. ‘Gone’ and ‘Forget’ end the night and only a withered, dried up relic could say it was anything but glorious. A slight dip mid-set which, as alluded to, will take a mater of perspective to judge, didn’t harm the performance one bit. It showcased a variance in style which isn’t easy to carry off unless you’re already blessed with the undeniable and irrepressible talent of Lianne La Havas.
Lianne La Havas photographed for State by Leah Carroll.