Words by Holly Pyke
Even the support act, Ady Suleiman, was more impressive than many headlining acts I have seen; giving a confident, soulful and relaxed performance full of humour and high energy.
And for a reportedly shy woman, Laura Mvula also appeared confident and relaxed from the moment she walked on stage. Her down-to-earth humor and warmth, coupled with the rich, dark, smooth resonance of her voice, enthralled the room from the very start of her set.
A set that was dynamic; ranging from the hypnotic opening song, ‘Like the Morning Dew’, to the upbeat, relaxed and almost tropical sounds of her second track ‘Let Me Fall’ – which had not been completed in time to be included on her debut album, ‘Sing to the Moon’.
‘Father, Father’ tugged at the audience’s heartstrings, with its beautiful simplicity – whilst a sizzling performance delivered the more energetic tracks such as ‘Green Garden’.
Mvula was supported immaculately by her band, who framed her performance perfectly throughout the set – from the spellbinding instrumental and vocal arrangements of ‘Like The Morning Dew’ to the haunting backing vocals of ‘Sing To The Moon’.
Even the false start to her final song, ‘That’s Alright’, where a broken bass guitar was swapped for a double bass, couldn’t fault their collective performance. Mvula simply kept the audience engaged with lighthearted self-deprecating banter and affable charm.
A charm Mvula had shown throughout her performance, regaling stories about the background and the inspiration of many of her songs – such as the teenaged heartbreak behind ‘Flying Without You’, and the frustration and self-doubt that evolved into the evocative and empowering ‘She’.
In answer to the unsurprising demand, Mvula’s encore was with her brother, and the band’s Cellist, James Douglas; where the siblings performed Douglas’ own arrangement of Michael Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’.
And like the rest of the performance, the encore was beautiful, understated and human – leaving the highly charged crowd roaring with applause.
Laura Mvula is a local talent Birmingham should be truly proud of.
For more on Laura Mvula, visit http://www.lauramvula.com/home
For more gigs at The Glee Club (B’Ham), visit http://www.glee.co.uk/birmingham