Paloma Faith, Somerset House, London
"For all the people with wobbly bits, bingo wings, jelly, beer bellies, flab, and even liposuction where the fat deposits itself in weird places...we shake 'em together tonight." With that strange, joyful announcement, Paloma Faith turns her back to the crowd and hoists up her demure, ankle-length ball gown until it falls just underneath her bum and wiggles her alabaster legs, sending ripples across her pert behind.
This is the introduction to “Cellulite”, a celebration of pitted skin and fat bits, culminating in raucous drum beats that make the sound that wobbly flesh might make if it were held against a microphone. It hasn’t been released with the rest of her new album, Fall to Grace as Faith’s producer Nelee Hooper said it didn’t fit with the album because, as Faith puts it: “It’s kind of jolly and the rest was all miserable”.
Faith has no issue with switching from miserable to ecstatic in a heartbeat, though. She falls to her knees during a cover of Bettye LaVette’s “Let me Down Easy” and dances jubilantly, inviting fans to join her on stage for “Freedom” in clouds of wafting tinsel.
Over the song’s opening, soulful piano chords, she says: “Thank you for not making me work a nine-to-five job. It’s long hours but I feel free.” Somehow you can’t imagine Faith working a desk job.
She flits between poised Hollywood glamour and a sort of shuffling pantomime dame. You can imagine her as a marauding pirate, or as a sort of Nancy-from-Oliver figure, entertaining waifs and strays with her east-end chirpiness. But certainly not a desk job.
She has, in reality, worked as a magician’s assistant and a singer in a burlesque troupe, and her love of theatricality shines through. Hits “Do you Want the Truth or Something Beautiful,” a ballad full of soaring drama and potent symbolism and string-heavy hit “New York” receive ecstatic cheers from the audience, whose happiness is probably buoyed by a brief respite from the rain, and the rare chance to smoke during a gig.
She’s funny too, remarking on her early exit from her role as a mentor on television show The Voice UK. “When I was a kid and I didn’t fancy going to school my mum would say 'don’t worry about it', and I loved it! Don’t you wish you could have someone to tell you that now? 'You don’t fancy doing that TV show? Don’t worry about it, it’s only nine million people...'”
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