Caro Emerald @ Symphony Hall Birmingham, 30 October 2018

During the week where Winter 2018 officially decided to show up, the first words from Caro Emerald were a welcome reminder of the summer: ‘Tonight we will be taking you on a trip’. Imagine orange and yellow spotlights, a big screen showing your view out of an aeroplane and Caro in a Spanish-inspired outfit consisting of a layered, pleated skirt, a black t-shirt and chunky gold jewellery.

Caro Emerald is the queen of fusion and her music has a whole host of influences. From jazz to ska to pop, she mixes the ancient and modern for a funky feel. The 37 year old Dutch singer, whose real name is Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw, is most renowned for her album ‘Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor’ which has sold over 1.4 million copies and became the Netherlands longest running album at number one, beating Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’!

The first half of Caro’s set continued the holiday theme with the big screen showing everything from palm trees to beach balls. It felt like a trip through Europe and then off to South America. She played her way through some of her most travel-worthy tunes including ‘Tahitian Skies’ and ‘Mambo Shuffle’ and the French sounding ‘I Know He’s Mine’.

The backing band enhanced the show throughout the performance both with their instrumental skills (at one point one of them was playing a trumpet and a percussion instrument at the same time!), and their dancing. They put in a high-energy performance, occasionally taking centre-stage and particular mentions should go to the trumpeter and saxophonist who had an infectious chemistry. Equally enjoyable was Steven, the pianist, sliding around his corner of the stage in sunglasses whilst playing a melodica.

Following a costume change, the second half of Caro’s set was dedicated to smouldering jazz. This is what Caro does best and she set the scene for a modern-day Gatsby party. The big screen became a haven for vibrant block colours and Caro’s name written in gold. It was easy to imagine drop-waist dresses, feathers and decadent champagne towers. Song highlights included ‘Excuse My French’, ‘That Man’ and new song ‘Wake Up Romeo’.

Whilst the crowd were dancing in their seats throughout the night, when the first notes of ‘Liquid Lunch’ played there was a sudden uprising and everyone wanted to dance. This continued for the rest of the show including the encore which comprised the poppy ‘Stuck’ and ‘A Night Like This’ – where everyone was encouraged to sing along in two parts.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the best night for Caro vocally and she told the crowd from the start that she was struggling with her voice. On the plus side her voice on a bad day is better than most people’s good day, and her tone was still spot on. She was a bit quiet and lost some dynamic range, but kudos to her for getting to the end of the night. The main downside was that one of the roadies came onto the stage and right up to Caro more than once which was quite distracting. I assume this was to let everyone know about changes to the setlist, which was a little shorter than the rest of the tour, and couldn’t be helped.

Overall Caro put on the sort of extravagant and uplifting show she’s become known for and the crowd didn’t feel short-changed. Bring back the summer!

Set List

  1. Paradise
  2. Riviera Life
  3. Chromambo
  4. Absolutely Me
  5. Tangled Up
  6. Mambo Shuffle
  7. One Day
  8. Tahitian Skies
  9. The Ghost of You
  10. My 2 Cents
  11. Night in Brasilia
  12. I Know That He’s Mine
  13. Close to Me
  14. What Man
  15. You Don’t Love Me
  16. Excuse My French
  17. Wake Up Romeo
  18. Liquid Lunch
  19. That Man


  1. Stuck
  2. A Night Like This

Reviewer: Chrissie Duxson

Photographer: Adriana Vasile

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