26th November | O2 Academy
As soon as I joined the eager crowd on Saturday night, I knew I was about to witness something special. Arriving just in time to catch the funk-filled opener ‘Overcome’, one of my favourite singles from The Dreaming Room, it was clear that Laura Mvula was going to impress.
There’s something so honest about Mvula, whether it be the pure natural talent of her voice or quite simply, her boldly shaven head…She hid nothing from the crowd. Addressing us like a bunch of her best friends, she eased us into the show with a couple of slower numbers from debut album Sing To The Moon like the charming ‘I Don’t Know What The Weather Will Be’ and the lullaby style track ‘She’. Claiming that she had to play a few oldies because “her mum told her to”, Mvula was rewarded with a roomful of chuckles. You could practically feel the awe radiating around the room for the artist, she has the raw ability to tell a musical story in the most beautiful way, while making it look so effortless as well.
Playing a mix of old and new tunes, Mvula smoothly dipped into her latest album, making everybody groove to the slightly rockier ‘Kiss My Feet’, with the help of her amazing five-piece band, which happened to include two of her equally talented siblings. Even the harsher, darker songs had been flawlessly written, with each lyric dripping with emotion and meaning.
She pours her heart into everything she writes, that’s for sure, and this truly shone when she performed a stripped back version of ‘Show Me Love’. Introducing the song with a recollection of the ‘emotional breakdown’ that she had, during a performance of the song at a previous show, only seemed to make the lyrics ring truer once sang. While her hilarious description of the snotty state she was left in afterwards had the whole crowd in fits of laughter, with everybody falling in love with her totally grounded personality all the while. Yet when she continued to play the melody and sing, alone on stage, this time it was the crowd left reaching for the tissues instead of her.
I wish I could’ve captured the silence in the room, seeing everybody so engrossed in each lyric was such a dreamlike experience that it’s pretty hard to do justice with only a few words. It just goes to show how much of a unique artist, and I really mean that title, Laura Mvula is. To bring a crowd to a halt, listening to each and every lyric, using just her voice and a keyboard is something you rarely see with modern musicians, and I couldn’t have more respect for her.
Ending the show on a high, Mvula and her band brought back the funk with the big hit ‘Green Garden’, followed by ‘Phenomenal Woman’, which you couldn’t have stopped yourself grooving to even if you tried. It’s safe to say that I was not expecting to be so impressed by this show, I mean, I knew she’d won MOBO awards but wow, I was not expecting that. What a humble and hilarious woman, and so under-appreciated too.
The show was flawless. I can’t wait for more people to discover Mvula’s brilliance, and appreciate her for the hidden gem that she’s proven herself to be.
Watch the video for ‘Show Me Love’ below.