The Roundhouse in London has held a wide range of events (after it stopped housing trains) ranging from Bob Dylan to the iTunes Festival and much much more, but I went there to see the ever-talented multi-instrumentalist Katie Melua.
I entered the Roundhouse early, which had an already building buzz that was a 50/50 split between excitement and restlessness before Melua came on. As she eventually did, the atmospheric blue lighting and chandeliers dipped their glow for a moment to attract attention to the guitar-holding figure on stage, who then uttered a timid “hello” before playing a moving acoustic number for her opening. After this first stunning song Katie was joined on stage by a cello player. The two played instrumentally for short while before Katie sang the line “Diamonds Are Forever” – causing the whole audience to look at each other and “oooh” in perfect synchronisation, the appreciation of the beauty of the track continued on until it’s end.
Melua was joined on stage by her full band after Diamonds Are Forever, playing her own take on the ever challenging genre of the blues – easily showing her skill in her mastery of it. A few songs after this we were treated to the announcement of what track would be her single from the new album – and then were further treated with hearing it. This track was all you might expect from one of her singles and a little extra, being a well arranged and well written track with every aspect of it thought through and balanced perfectly underneath lyrics that carry it all with the strange folk-singer-songwriter mixture that Katie Melua does so well.
After the single Melua played a range of tracks before going to a John Mayall cover. Before playing the song it was played it was explained to the audience that this version of Crawling Up The Hill came to be when she was rehearsing with her band, she asked if they had heard the song before, and they spontaneously played it in a different groove – the entire song falling in place for them. This alternate feeling suited Melua down to the ground, and along with her next song Shiver and Shake, made everyone sway; stomp and clap to the beats and melodies laid perfectly down by the musicians on stage.
The audience was told after a few songs by Melua that she has always wanted to bring the sounds of Georgia, her home country, to the United Kingdom for her fans to hear. At this time an all male group of folk singers came on stage, dazzling the audience with an acapella song. After these folk singers had done their first song one of them picked up a guitar and they were then joined on stage by Melua, who joined them for to add to their already massive vocal harmonies.
Melua announced part way through this event that it was to celebrate her spending 10 years as an active musician, in that time she’s written many fantastic songs which a lot of people know – even if they don’t realise it. Melua saved a few of these for last, standing on stage alone with her guitar to play a spectacular version of Closest Thing To Crazy, after which she was joined on stage by her full band for her classic song 9 Million Bicycles.
After these two time-honoured tracks were done Melua left the stage for a short while, before returning to play another two songs, first was Two Bare Feet – with it’s funky country groove that had the audience rocking along together. After Two Bare Feet came the finale, which was I Cried For You, this song saw Melua’s band leave the stage and instead be replaced by the folk singers once more, who added their distinctive almost choir like voices to the track. The audience gently swayed throughout the song, enjoying the relaxing turn which the end of the gig had taken before eventually filing out into the streets at the end of the night.
This gig just went to show that there are still true artists left in the music world, people who can paint a picture with their music and then write a poem over the top of it with their lyrics. Katie Melua is without a doubt one of these artists, and I hope that we have a lot more to see of her beautiful music in years to come.
1 – Belfast
2 – Diamonds Are Forever
3 – On The Road Again
4 – My Aphrodisiac Is You
5 – Love Is A Silent Thief
6 – The Love I’m Frightened Of7 – Sailing Ships From Heaven
8 – Never Felt Less Like Dancing
9 – Idiot School
10 – Crawling Up A Hill (John Mayall cover)
11 – Shiver And Shake
12 – Where Does The Ocean Go?
13 – I Will Be There
14 – Spider’s Web
15 – If The Lights Go Out
16 – Call Off The Search
17 – I Never Fall
18 – Georgian Polyphonic Singing (Georgian Singers)
19 – Georgian Polyphonic Singing (Katie Melua and Georgian Singers)
20 –The Flood (Featuring Georgian Singers)
21 – Closest Thing To Crazy
22 – 9 Million Bicycles
23 – Two Bare Feet
24 – I Cried For You
::: covering the latest live events in London (UK) for RenownedForSound.com