Tues­day night was almost rain free – that’s say­ing some­thing for this washout of an Eng­lish sum­mer which has so far plunged fes­ti­vals and out­door events into a mael­strom of mud and near bank­rupt­cy. So it was a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence to sit on dry paving stones in the court­yard of Som­er­set House, drink­ing a ubiq­ui­tous Kop­par­berg cider, watch­ing the pur­ple light­ing gath­er poten­cy as dusk set­tled, bathing the Neo­clas­si­cal archi­tec­ture in its mauve neon glow.

Palo­ma Faith is appear­ing for two nights here at Som­er­set House. I’ve man­aged to catch her on fes­ti­val stages and when she joined Can­di Sta­ton on stage at the Chel­tenham Jazz Fes­ti­val but this is the first time I’ve seen her as star of the show.

The audi­to­ri­um seems to be over­whelm­ing­ly packed with women, plus a few loved-up cou­ples and some tourists. Seye Adelekan, who used to be a gui­tarist with Palo­ma, is per­form­ing tonight with his band as the sup­port. As we wait for her to appear, a rain show­er descends upon us, and in the midst of this, Palo­ma makes her entrance. She is, as always, extrav­a­gant­ly, the­atri­cal­ly dressed, this time in a long, slinky vin­tage dress. She launch­es into When You’re Gone, a pow­er­ful, soul­ful track from her new album Fall to Grace. Com­mand­ing the stage, Palo­ma clear­ly rel­ish­es the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage with the crowd between every num­ber, shar­ing expe­ri­ences of life and love, and encour­ag­ing us to sing and applaud.

The set is a mix of old and new num­bers, with the most pop­u­lar tracks from the first album Do You Want the Truth or Some­thing Beau­ti­ful? sprin­kled sparse­ly among the more reflec­tive and per­son­al songs about love which per­me­ate the new album. Around five songs into the set, Palo­ma sings Upside Down, some­thing those unfa­mil­iar with her new mate­r­i­al all know, and there’s a gen­er­al sense of the crowd warm­ing up and enjoy­ing themselves.

Palo­ma deliv­ers an amus­ing, sur­prise num­ber called Cel­lulite, a no-holds barred cel­e­bra­tion of our wob­bly bits. By way of intro­duc­tion, she turns around, slides her dress up and gives us a demo of her own wob­bly bits, although cel­lulite and excess flesh are far from Palo­ma’s prob­lems. She asks us to accept, nay love our bin­go wings and dim­pled thighs, and shake it all in time to the next song. The women in the audi­ence are lap­ping up ever word, hug­ging each oth­er and singing along, per­haps Palo­ma will find her­self a place as a singer of “I Will Sur­vive” style anthems for female solidarity.

The famil­iar piano intro of New York kicks off, but the song feels dis­ap­point­ing­ly short, a reminder that new mate­r­i­al is tak­ing cen­tre stage. For encores, Palo­ma calls audi­ence onto the stage to dance to Free­dom with her. Her cur­rent sin­gle Pick­ing up the Pieces is a fit­ting end, with gusts of con­fet­ti show­er­ing down in the now, thank­ful­ly dry, sum­mer evening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *