Paloma Faith is an icon. Whatever your take on contemporary music is, there’s no denying that she’s up there with artists such as Jake Bugg, Frank Turner and Plan B. A part of a new generation sent to change the way we view the world via the medium of music. Her journey through the music industry has been a tough one but one she has completely worked for. In turn, she’s bringing with her a message regarding work ethic, passion and determination. Using her talents for good, instead of evil, she’s following in the footsteps of artists, who have previously walked the same path as she is walking right now, such as Billie Holiday, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald…but she’s paving a personal route, in her own sky-scraper heels.
With artists like Paloma Faith in the mix, my faith in the music industry remains intact. Can we just forget about David Guetta now and lets stop replaying ‘Take Care’ by Drake and Rihanna. Lets focus on the artists who are in this industry, not for the fame, but for the passion. Because they can’t get through a day without creating a melody. Because they speak in lyrics. Because it’s not blood that runs through their veins, but music. Music and a shared aspiration that the world could be a better place… but only if we sack off Baauer from the hit 40 UK Chart Show.
In the last 18 months, I’ve followed Paloma Faith’s career intently and I’ve seen how much she’s progressed as an artist. Ever since she released her first album ‘Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful’, I’ve witnessed her perform a few times and the intensity of one of her shows is something you can only experience. From the very first time I sat in Union Chapel, watching her perform her first album to a crowd so deeply intrigued by the performance in front of them, to Sunday night, where I sat in the same spot as I did two years previously, watching her perform songs from her second album, ‘Fall to Grace’ to a different crowd yet who were equally as intrigued, I feel as though I’ve been looking in on her journey and suddenly, she’s transcended into a figure the music industry so urgently needs.
As she took to the stage, accompanied by her band members – a team so close, it’s almost like they’re family – and backed by a string quartet, the crowd went silent, ready to immerse themselves fully into the night that lay ahead of them. That’s the thing with a Paloma Faith concert, you never quite know what you should be prepared for…
The night was held in aid of War Child, a dedicated charity created to raise funds for children who are victims of war. The charity’s work stretches across the globe and there’s no limit to the help and support they provide. Produced by American Express, the night was the first of their Platinum Cashback rewards – an idea I can’t help but hail as long awaited. The ethos behind the night is that you spend £30 on a ticket to the show and then on the night, you can either take the cash back in the form of an American Express gift card or you can donate that £30 to War Child. There’s no guilt placed on you if you want to take the cash back but the way I see it is that you’ve spent £30 to see a truly spectacular show AND you’re helping to save someone’s life. I mean, what else are you going to spend your money on besides that pair of boots you saw in the Office sale that’ll be out of fashion by April?
With Nina Nesbitt as the support act for the evening, the night began when Nina picked up her guitar. Quirky, talented beyond belief and completely holding her own on the stage, Nina is everything I love about the music industry right now. Girls fighting back, doing their own thing and proving that Geri Halliwell kick-started a major world changer the moment she uttered ‘girl power’ for the first time. At only 18, Nina possesses a level of wisdom that shone throughout the crowd as she performed songs straight from her heart. It’s without a doubt that Nina is an emerging talent and I feel so honoured to have seen her perform in a venue such as Union Chapel. Her music is honest, personal and she had the entire crowd in the palm of her hand as she giggled her way through a badly tuned guitar.
After a short break, Paloma took to the stage to perform; in no way different from every other time I’ve seen her live, she had the crowd speechless as she glided her way across the stage and introduced the night with ‘Let Your Love Walk In’. Despite a few errors, Paloma soon announced that she was having trouble with the set list as she had only performed the songs in such a way once before: stripped back, acoustic and completely raw. While there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as she performed songs such as ‘Agony’, ‘When You’re Gone’ and ’30 Minute Love Affair’, within seconds she had the crowd singing along to the song made famous through the John Lewis advert, ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. That’s what I love about Paloma’s music; it can lift you up and bring you back down without you even realising it and as you find yourself dancing along to the music, you’re left wondering why your mascara is halfway down your face.
As she continued to perform songs from her album, she wowed the crowd with her performance of ‘Just Be’ – a modern day love song that is refreshingly honest. Telling the story of a couple so in love that they can admit they sometimes get a bit pissed off with each other, she gave every singleton in the audience a little bit of hope that, someday, they’ll find someone who finds their annoying habits endearing. Followed shortly by ‘Streets of Glory’ a personal favourite of mine, I was completely speechless as she performed the song with such perfect execution, despite the entire crowd holding back tears. Paloma proved last night that she’s not just a brilliant performer but a true wordsmith as well, with lyrics such as “you can’t teach because you never learn” and “the more you talk, the less it means”…which is why it just seemed completely necessary to let Paloma sing away our Sunday evening. Her songs capture every single human emotion and I was left wondering whether I could get through life just by playing her album when I’m required to speak. What I try to say in 20 minutes, Paloma proved she can cover in a simple three.
A true rollercoaster of emotions, seeing Paloma Faith perform live leaves you questioning reality and wondering what you’ve been doing with your life up until that very moment. She’s a typical girl from Hackney who drinks ginger and lemon tea on stage and swears like a trooper (when her Mum isn’t present at a gig) but she possesses an insane amount of knowledge when it comes to the state of society. Her music reflects that and in turn, her audiences leave from one of her shows that little bit more aware of what exactly is around them. As she performed her song ‘Black and Blue’, I could see the crowd studying the lyrics like they were required to sit the biggest exam of their life afterwards. It says a lot about an artist when they can capture the attention of an audience like that.
Watching Paloma perform instilled a level of calm within me that I only really understand after a couple of glasses of wine; with the likes of her flying the flag for British music and creating waves I know the future generation of musicians will be splashing around in sooner or later, I have 100% faith in Ms. Faith to bring the music industry back to the level it should be at. Forget artists shedding clothes to get attention, Paloma Faith managed to capture the audience with just her sheer presence upon the stage.