According to Paloma Faith, reviewers tend to go on about how ‘chatty’ she is. So I won’t, for long.
For me, Paloma’s chattiness - or should I say gobbiness - makes her all the more entertaining. Anyone hoping for an hour or so of her simply belting out the big numbers should have probably stayed at home and stuck her album on, for part of Paloma’s charm as a performer are the ‘chats’ and anecdotes she shares so freely with the audience.
And on a trip to Leeds, where she once lived, there are plenty to share. Whether it was working behind the bar Milo Bar, where Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson was her supervisor, or paying tribute to the dance teachers who influenced her so strongly, it’s clear Paloma has a lot of love for her former home – and the audience at First Direct Arena lapped it up.
Her set started out with some upbeat numbers, with Paloma directing us all to get out of our seats and dance, no matter what security had to say about it.
I particularly enjoyed Ready for the Good Life, where her incredibly talented backing singers came out from behind their mic stands to take to the stage alongside Paloma for a rather natty dance routine. Despite recalling how she gave up dancing to ‘focus on other things’ she commanded the stage well, which was a surprise for me, having been more used to seeing her diva-like performances stood still in front of a mic, with the production happening around her, like her recent rain soaked performance at the Brits. For those of you who saw her speech when she collected her Best Female gong, you’ll be happy to hear that she is still reflecting on her achievement, and brought the statuette along with her “so we could all share”.
Back to the music, New York, from her first album Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? was very powerful, and Blood, Sweat and Tears from second album Fall To Grace was also a standout favourite for me.
The thing that struck me most about the show was how much everybody on stage seemed to be enjoying themselves. Some of her band have been with her since her first album and the rapport they have made shone through. The simple production values – a crisp white stage made up of various platforms and staircases, with the band and Paloma all dressed in gold – surprised me for someone that is so well known for her flamboyance, but nothing more was needed with a voice that powerful. While it may be that Paloma is finally being recognised by the establishment, it seems her legions of fans have known it all along – she is a star.