This was a while ago, but my boyfriend took me to see Lianne La Havas as a valentines day present. It was around the 12th March, at Leeds university Union. And here is my review…
Lianne La Havas’ soulful melodies have been getting people excited lately. Her album was well received, and the public have accepted her intimate sound with gusto. She has just released two films to accompany the songs ‘Elusive’ and ‘Gone’, which are both artistic, emotive affairs. It was against this backdrop that she headlined the Leeds University Union, which was packed out, and yet had such a relaxed atmosphere. As she arrived on stage, the love felt for her was palpable, and when she made a slight mistake on the guitar (ironically, just as she was singing the line ‘we all make mistakes’), everyone laughed, but with her, like they were watching a friend make a mistake, and from there, she came back stronger than ever, supported by a swaying, entranced audience.
Her voice delivered smoky yet precise sounds. Her songs were presented with a smile, and even when she was singing in a delicate whisper, it reverberated around the room. She got everyone to stamp and clap during ‘Is your love big enough?’, and many mouths were moving in time to her words during the set. By the time she got to her encore (‘Elusive’ and ‘Age’), people were loudly joining in. Lianne was very effusive throughout, warmly thanking everyone for being there and saying that she loved her job and her fans. And can you blame her?
The demographic of the room reflected what her music is best at: the room was filled with couples. I myself dragged a boyfriend along, because it is so easy to feel like she is singing just for you (as a couple, or as an individual), even when there are hundreds of other people in the room.
The support act was also entrancing, and the perfect match for Lianne La Havas’ songs, which range from moody and poignant reflections on past loves, to smooth and joyful celebratory numbers. Rae Morris, at only 19, stunned with a soaring voice older than her years. She seemed genuinely humbled to be on stage, and closed her eyes with pure love for her craft as she plied the keyboard. Her wide, powerful voice and open vowel sounds were perfectly counterbalanced by husky, unfinished sentences and atmospheric piano accompaniment. This singer is definitely one to keep an eye on.
The only thing that may have marred this perfect evening was a general consensus from the front rows that the drummer was beating away like he was in a heavy metal band, rather than supporting a woman whose voice needs no accompaniment to sound compelling (such is the hardship of being right at the front!); but apart from that, there was no stopping the performance. This was truly an evening of heart stopping crescendos and whispery tail-offs. Lianne’s lustrous, well-structured melodies were impressive, and Rae Morris filled the room with sonorous joy. Lianne La Havas’ show proved that female singers don’t need the gaudy bells and whistles of mainstream pop to make a lasting aural or visual impression.