Emeli Sandé, Koko, London (4/5)


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The Independent Culture

Before the major record companies snapped up Emeli Sandé she projected a girlie look with luscious, long curls.

Today her shaven, Mohican-styled bleached hair presents a cool image of the street, somewhat at odds with the dowdy black kaftan she wore at London’s Koko. The Scottish singer-songwriter seemed grateful to be on stage saying that it was not too long ago that she was an audience member herself.  The former medical student at Glasgow University with a degree in neurology, ditched ambitions to be a doctor when a song she wrote, Boys, was chosen for the b-side to Cheryl Cole's 3 Words single.

She then penned tracks for artists such as Leona Lewis, Alesha Dixon and Tinie Tempah, Simon Cowell describing her as a favourite songwriter. Sandé has now embarked on a solo career and this was her first headlining major gig before she heads off to support Coldplay on their European tour. With a four-piece backing band, she introduced tracks from her debut album Our Version of Events. It showcases an outstanding voice with a range that is equally adept on up-tempo songs like This Has To Be Great and beautiful, soulful ballads such as Maybe.

Sandé has achieved recognition largely through singing the choruses on successful singles by the likes of Chipmunk, Wiley and Professor Green with whom she recently appeared on X-Factor performing the number one single Read All About It. She sang a medley of choruses from these chart hits that were enthusiastically received by the sell-out crowd. Sandé showed bags of energy on such tracks as Daddy, her second single, almost rapper-like in the way she expressed herself. Then she would metamorphose into a graceful ballad singer accompanying herself on the piano on stunning tracks like Hope. The contrasts in her performance were well judged.

Unfortunately, her album release has been pushed back to February with the result that the audience were unfamiliar with her set list. Indeed, she was thankful to the crowd for their enthusiasm despite this. It was doubtless why she chose to end the night with her debut hit single Heaven, a dance track that left the crowd on a high, a foretaste of what we may expect more of once her album drops. There are currently few UK female singers who can match her diversity. She has maturity, rare for a relative newcomer and is destined for a long career.