Kelis, gig review: Miles from post-Adele blandness

Metropolis Studios, London

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The Independent Culture

Jaws drop when husky-throated Kelis slips casually into a bravura falsetto during funky new track ‘Cobbler’ but it shouldn’t be a shock -  she’s nothing if not at home with her range.

Not satisfied with genre-evading musical success, she launched a line of cordon bleu sauces last year.

Now, dropping the EDM-heavy stylings of 2010’s ‘Flesh Tone’, her sixth album ‘Food’ returns to the soul influences of her early Neptunes-produced albums, this time revelling in a richly nostalgic warmth.

We’ve had vintage soul sounds by the skipload these past few years, but Kelis’ is miles from post-Adele blandness. ‘Hooch’ epitomises her effortless edginess, tense, heated and lusty. It’s a real and raw reinvention, but Kelis wears it so casually she’s nonchalantly reapplying her lipgloss before the fingerclicking saunter of ‘Biscuits N’ Gravy’ .

Segueing from this into ‘4th Of July (Fireworks)’ is a tough call, but her crack band recreate its four-to-the-floor beat with brass and drums to terrific effect.

The edges between old and new are further smoothed with a snatch of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’, reprised between ‘Trick Me’ and ‘A Cappella’, the latterly cunningly fused to Odyssey’s ‘Use It Up, Wear It Out’.

And she makes it all look so easy.