Benjamin Clementine, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, review: Every word is performed with certainty and purpose

Each song is sung so strikingly you can’t help but get caught up

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Despite repeat comparisons to Nina Simone from critics, it’s hard to pin London-born, Paris-dwelling Benjamin Clementine down. His voice certainly has the richness of Simone, but his style of performing and theatrical flair is entirely his own. His song Adios, from album At Least For Now, for example, would not be out of place on Broadway.

He carries himself well, walking on stage confidently and barefoot, and carries his music even better – each song sung so strikingly that you can’t help but get caught up in the emotion of the thing. I’ll admit I found myself affected by his rendition of his popular single Cornerstone, a song reminiscent of the Cinematic Orchestra.

Really, he needs no more than himself and a piano, but Clementine’s drummer Alexi joins him on stage for several of his songs at the Meltdown Festival set. The drumming complimented the flatness of the piano perfectly.

Every word, every key of his set was performed with an incredible certainty and purpose and the moments of silence found between verses were fraught with a heavy tension, like the audience were waiting for a sudden outburst of emotion – which is something the performance was not exactly lacking in the first place.