Imagine, just imagine, that The Graces of poetry and music summoned the likes of The Carpenters, Carole King, Julie London, Dusty Springfield, Bert Bacharch, Mary Coughlan and Herb Albert and asked them to kiss some of their magical muse upon this unassuming, singularly charismatic young lady, (BB already has) Sarah Joyce, who goes by the professional persona of Rumer (after a poet). She records an album; lovers go all moonstruck, kittens and puppies are sighed at in pet shops and your what to get you know who Christmas present dilemma is solved. Of Anglo/Pakistani descent and a history worthy of a tale she’s no overnight success but has worked doggedly these past six years to gain her deserved recognition.
And so to The Glee Club, the reviewer’s favourite venue for welcoming generosity and relaxed ambience. It’s a capacity crowd well cabaret wined and dined. The Club’s stage logo is wrapped-up in big golden bow the size of Dumbo’s ears. The set list follows her recent debut album release ‘Seasons of my Soul.’ She’s accompanied by a scorching ensemble of musicians and backing vocalist. On the album it sounds as if she sings the backing harmonies her self, lending it that Carpenters sound. Her voice, live, has a broader, sultry but never affected, sense of breadth, breath and subtle texture that compliments the album. Her timing is exquisite.
There’s shade as in ‘Slow’ (single release), unashamedly romantic, moody blue and moving. Or the Springtime, reflective optimism of ‘Thankful’s’ celebratory poetry. And the Spiritual/hymnal vulnerability of ‘Healer’ with minimal piano and a cappella evocative phrasing held the venue in a snowflake shaken crystal phial of captured magic. If your favourites haven’t been mentioned be assured it’s out of necessity of space, not preference. Throughout the set there’s an engaging band/audience banter and dialogue; every one determined to make this evening special. An intimacy to be savoured given that 2011 sees her deservedly play national big venues including Symphony Hall, March. The encore closed with a cover of, no surprise there, Bacharach’s ‘Alfie’. A more engaging interpretation than Cilla’s Sixties somewhat nasal keening attack with Rumer’s subtle inflexions allowing the song’s brooding complexities to surface. A charming night. And a G&T from Rebecca for me! xx
Set list: Come To Me High, Am I Forgiven, Slow, Saving Grace, Take Me As I Am, Thankful, Blackbird, On My Way Home, Goodbye Girl, Healer, Aretha. (encore) Stone Cold Picnic, Alfie.
Support act, usually a sextet, Phantom Limb, from Bristol, played as a trio with Yolanda Quartey on vocals. And wasn’t she just the divine and delightful, stage possessing soul diva? The bloodline of rhythm & blues, soul and jazz sisterhood heritage courses proudly in her veins. She can Torch with the best of them or smooth velvet purr to Dan Moore’s vibrato Rhodes piano effect moods. There’re lonesome road song laments and life-asserting gospel, erring towards C&W, ballads as with ‘Gravy Train. Stew Jackson’s seemingly underplayed acoustic guitar achieving all manner of rhythmic, percussive and melodic feats. But it’s Ms Quartey’s vocal range and beautiful, vulnerable surrender during the visceral intensity of ‘I’ll Have Mercy’ that left us spellbound.
Set list: Laugh Like You’re Mad, Good Fortune, Gravy Train, It’s The Only Way, I’ll Have Mercy, Withering Bones.
Review -John Kennedy
Photos – Katja Ogrin