Rumer, Royal Festival Hall, London
Thursday 31 March 2011
This time last year, a relatively unknown singer/songwriter named Rumer was celebrating the culmination of a decade-long slog for recognition with her first record deal. Since then, the 31-year-old hasn't wasted a moment making up for lost time.
Rumer (aka Sarah Joyce) has achieved the coveted combination of great record sales (debut album, Seasons of My Soul, released five months ago, has gone platinum) and widespread critical acclaim (she was nominated for two Brits a day after the album was released). Not to mention squeezing in the recording of a Christmas single, written for her by Burt Bacharach, before beginning to lay foundations for a new album.
Tonight, the Cinderella-style transformation is unmistakable. Six months ago, on the stage of London's Bloomsbury Theatre, Rumer spent most of the massively oversubscribed gig timidly staring at her shoes. Now, backed by an eight-piece band, she sports an air of self-assurance and welcomes her sold-out crowd at the Royal Festival Hall with the same effortlessness that decorates her stunning Laura Nyro-esque vocals. The vulnerability which once infused Rumer's love songs only remains in deliberate flickers of fragility, executed with precision on numbers like the seductive "Come to Me High" and the bright "Am I Forgiven".
Radio favourites such as "Slow" and "Aretha" are as charming as ever, but Rumer's newly strengthened sound now finds fitting outlets in her versions of what she describes as "boy songs" – the basis for her forthcoming album, Boys Don't Cry.
Very few performers can pull off so many covers, yet Rumer's astute choices allow her to do it. Showcasing her range between soulful, southern rock on David Wiffen's "Driving Wheel" and Smokey Robinson's Motown hit "You've Really Got a Hold on Me", Rumer's offerings get better and better. And she's still only just getting started.
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