Remember that biology lesson at school, when you tapped the tendon in somebody’s knee as they dangled their legs over the desk, and their legs jerked out in an involuntarily reflex?
As the lights drop in Leadmill, the vibrations from the drum beat do the same to your feet. For a couple of seconds, the drummer is in complete control of your limbs, forcing them to dance to his rhythm, sending them jerking every time the vibrations reverberate around the room.
There’s no grand intro. A simple stage, pitch black. Her five band members wander quietly on. She’s wearing a baggy green sweater, a pair of jeans and some gold hoops. And then, she sings.
During ‘Overcome’ she asks us to identify with her heartbreak, to put our hands in the air if we’ve been down in love luck. Her second album, The Dreaming Room, told her story of heartbreak and anxiety. On stage, she sings “I’m flying without you” right at somebody only known to her.
It’s nice to be at a gig with someone so chatty. Her whole performance is an ode to those who love her music, from telling people to stop talking because the music matters to a lot of people, to cueing us all to sing “lay the breadcrumb down” in a Leadmill-wide harmony.
Unable to afford a grand piano, she plays a wearable white keyboard guitar. Mid-way through ‘Father Father’, it breaks. So she stands with her tiptoes just off the front of the stage and sings ‘Diamonds’ completely acapella. No band, no background. Just voice.
Come to think of it, she’s probably the best female voice to be heard recently since London Grammar’s Hannah Reid.
For the last twenty minutes, she turns up the carnival, speaking of Jamaica, warm weather, and grooving through a medley of ‘Green Garden’, ‘See-Line Woman’, and ‘Phenomenal Woman’.
“Just gwan with it, dance with me, take off your clothes and run round naked if you want to”.
The party had arrived, but it left too early.
Oh well, she promises us we’ll find her on the dance floor at GAGA.