“She’s not bad.”
“Eh? She’s a bit better than ‘not bad’, sure she’s on fire lad!”
It’s true, fellow concert goer – Paloma Faith most certainly knows how to ignite a crowd. So much so, in fact, that the wanton intensity of that signature Paloma ’60s sound must be all too much for a few attendees and we’ll leave that at that.
Bursting on to the stage in Belfast’s historic Custom House Square, Paloma’s urgency seems to first infect her back-up singers –they frantically shimmy in time with our main act and it rubs off on the eight-piece band; standing still is not an option and the brass section give it their all as this introduction transforms into an invigorating spectacle. Did we mention that a lyric hasn’t yet crossed Paloma’s lips?
That’s one of the most inviting elements of this performance. There is little breathing time shared between Paloma Faith and her band – it’s all go, all of the time and despite the content of some of the songs that drip with melancholia and heartbreak – Paloma conducts her audience and musicians, not with hands or theory, but with a soulful enthusiasm that’s surprisingly adept. Vocally confident, Paloma struts, jumps and slides around her arena as the hits roll out, one after another.
Here’s the thing. For a non-fan, this is a surprise. Paloma Faith is that singer who’s been on the Buzzcocks mucking about with Noel Fielding. The singer who’d usually prompt a switching of stations on a wireless that for the past few years has seemed saturated with nostalgia-laden retro pop. But not tonight. Tonight, a different side of this artist shines through and it’s commanding, if not opinion-changing.
Truly a vision of a bygone era, Paloma stands tall and bellows ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’, ‘Can’t Rely On You’ and for some reason, a very adequate cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’ that sees a fervent reaction from the fathers and grandfathers chaperoning their young brood to this open air event. Honestly, it rocked. As does the fact that Paloma takes the time to introduce every member of her on-stage entourage and prompts them to improvise a little with their instruments. They’re good at what they do, wailing on guitars and tinkling keys to put their stamp on what’s more or less the Paloma show.
And deservedly so, this has been relentless. The admission that a new album will see the light of day soon and bear more in common with the rendition of ‘Purple Haze’ than her drum’n’bass encore (Sigma’s ‘Changing’) would exacts a distinct wall of yelps and hollers that convey excitement and praise.
Sipping on tea, Paloma Faith is surely spent after tonight’s bold and compelling performance and not only has she enjoyed a loyal fanbase here this evening, but likely changed a few minds.