I've been waiting three years to get Paloma's name back in the headline next to a New York venue. The show ended 90-minutes ago and I'm still buzzing from her performance. To think, this is just a fraction of what she can do on a stage.
That UK dynamo Paloma Faith finally played her first public New York show. Everything I say about tonight show, I have to prefence with that fact that I saw her three years ago at the record release gig at London's Scala for the first album. So for me, tonight's show was reminding me about what a great joy it is to hear her amazing voice and see her lovely personality on stage. For the handful of you who got to see her tonight -- tell your friends, tell your pets, tell your mum that Paloma is the singing sensation you've been waiting for. The rest of you, be patient, when her second album, Fall to Grace, gets a proper U.S. release in November, I'm sure she'll play more dates around our country.
For tonight's gig, it played as a a perfect introduction to Paloma, the singer, the personality and the performer. You have to think of her voice and music first. The voice will blow you away with her range and depth. She name checks Etta James and Bettye Lavette as whom she admires. She'll get compared to several popular obvious singers of today, but Et and Bet are templates for her. Between songs, she expressed her opinion that most of the great music came before 1973. The reason I think she picked that year is that's when Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On album was released. Last masterpiece soul album? Just a guess.
While she draws from 60s American soul, songs on the new album do have a modern angle. It was produced by superstar producer Nellee Hooper of Bjork fame. You'll hear the dance beats on Blood, Sweat & Tears, which she called a modern love song for modern lovers. I lean towards Agony and Let Your Love Walk In (which she wrote with Ed Harcourt) with its deep undertones that accompany her heart-wretching vocals. Her big hit is the lead track on Fall to Grace, Picking Up the Pieces. It's an all-out epic of big orchestral sounds and Paloma letting her voice soar. It's an ambitious, big sounding album.
I'm glad she got to perform New York from her 2009 debut, Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? Because, duh? Hello! It gave her a chance to wag a finger at the music industry people in the crowd for not giving it a proper release. Subsequently, the single was released the same day in the UK as Empire State of Mind. I'm still beholden to that album. It's like a first love, and you never forget your first love, until your next first love comes into your life. Anyway, I like the classic soul tracks, the funky hits and playful ditties. New York is a gospel meets torch song anthem meets fairy tale.
Now, let's talk about Paloma the person. She's a doll. We see and hear plenty of mainstream singers with big splashy pop tunes, but they don't have Paloma's personality and style. I've always said that she reminds me of Tina Turner, in that like Tina, Paloma speaks her mind. She even explained during the set her dislike of authority and being told what to do, like not stepping over the yellow line at airports. She values her personal freedom and ability to say what she wants. She even compalined to her label on stage about playing crap music before one of her showcases and how they will probably make her duet with Akon or somebody of that nature. That makes her admire her even more.
On stage, she has a tremendous presence. It's her outfit to start. She has a history in the London cabaret and costume scene, having gotten her start at Madam JoJos. She was even a magician's assistant at one point. When you watch her strut around on stage, you know she was meant to be a performer and she enjoys entertaining. When he gets a proper stage, she'll really shine. I remember during the Scala show where she was just non-stop dancing, grooving, strutting and getting into the moment. Likewise, this was a short, stripped down Paloma set, just two musicians and one of her back-up singers. When you're sitting down the whole set and at tables, it was a bit hard to get wild like we did at Scala. Paloma did ask the crowd to get-up and move, which maybe two people did. On the other hand, it made me focus on her voice.
Although, when she first walked out on stage, she looked terrified, probably because she's waiting for this moment all her life and half the crowd is music industry people. After the first song, she confessed that she was shitting herself. Well, the crowd was shitting themselves as well, so it was one massive shitting. How's that for a pull quote for an advert? "Paloma Faith, she's shitting herself, so will you."
Anyway, she's great people and a pistol as we say in the states. What you see on stage is what she's like off it as well. Whip smart sense of humor and engaging, you just want to be her friend. When I met her in London, I was like, "If I wasn't a dopey American music blogger, I could have asked her asked out for cocktails and tapas."
Conclusion, Paloma is awesome. If you've been reading this space for the past few years, you would have known that by now. I forgive you. Don't worry, once she becomes popular here when she's forced to be on Dancing With the Stars or some lame daytime talk show, I'll disown her ... maybe. Probably not, she's too fun to turn my back on her.
Check the 2009 post for better pictures of her. I was stuck in the back of Joe's with the proletariats, so couldn't get any decent shots.