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Live Review: Rumer – Friday 17th December 2010 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK

4 min read

Having only heard of Rumer from what was played on the telly within the 30 seconds of brief yet effective advertising of her debut record, Seasons Of My Soul, I have to admit I was a little bit wet behind the ears when it came to seeing the sultry singer perform her sell out Shepherds Bush Empire gig this month. Before anyone asks, yes….I am totally ashamed of that given what I witnessed as part of the 2000+ strong melancholic loving audience.

Rumer, who hails from Pakistan, has had quite the streak of luck so far in her career. The singer was discovered by music legend Burt Bacharach and flown to California to singer for him prior to the release of her debut record. Both his influence an golden touch was present throughout each of the numbers performed on Friday. Already the singer has been nicknamed the 21st Century’s Karen Carpenter and after what I heard at Friday’s gig that nickname couldn’t be more fitting for the singer.

Thankfully the Baltic weather didn’t deter the crowds from making their way to the venue to see the show as I thought it would. Though there was the occasional empty seat, the event was being advertised as a sell out so my sympathy goes out to anyone who experienced an ill fated journey to West London that night.

The setting was one for a Jazz diva. A plethora of instrumental delicacies positioned in a horseshoe shape around the vocalist who donned the centre front stage in radiance throughout the 90 minute set.

Emerging from the rear stage curtains at just after 9pm the singer casually took centre point to begin the set with Come To Me High, a sombre start to the set with a fantastic horn section offered by her accompanying mini orchestra of ten.

Seventies laced and euphoric Am I Forgiven was given a fresh delivery with some impressive vocal lickings by her supportive backup singing trio.

The highlight of the evening came early in the form of the singers first and introductory single, Slow. Pitch perfect, rich and delivered with flawless precision, the audience melted into the palms of Rumor’s syrupy, heartache heavy vocals that literally raised the hairs from my arms. Gasps could be heard throughout the performance of Slow and proved to be the standout track of the night.

Further down the set Blackbird, another obvious highlight with its gorgeous harmonizing and complimenting chord changes gathered a few hollers from the crowd and a fan running to the front to wave to the singer as she donned the stage with confidence.

A couple of covers in the form of the Paul Simon penned, Long, Long Day and immaculate Laura Nyro track, Stoned Soul Picnic, showed face among the set along with Alfie, a track written by the singers mentor, Burt Bacharach, and requested by several fans yelling down from the heights of the 3rd level of the venue.

Thankful, described as the theme track to Seasons Of My Soul, was drenched in Bacharach style chords and a sixties seasoning that the crowd lapped up hungrily while the piano-led, Healer, was given a minimalist backing and really gave scope to the singers booming, bass heavy vocals.

Trying her hand at country music and commenting on having a future country hit, On My Way Home could be just that. With a mild coating of Nashville twang, the track was glossy and slotted in perfectly to the rest of the set rather than sticking out like a sore thumb. The track also gave the singers backing band the chance to demonstrate their talents with the intricate addition.

Throughout the set her right hand man and the albums producer, Steve Brown, was by her side showing off his multi-instrumental talents and heavy with brief anecdotes and the odd quip that drew laughs from the audience.

Closing the evening and spreading the Christmas vibe the singer chose to perform a faultless version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and the encore’s, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

Going into the Shepherds Bush Empire on Friday night a complete newbie to the world of Rumer I had no preconceptions about the night ahead but left the venue not only a fan but also now a follower of the singer who I haven’t been able to stop listening to since the gig.

One of the most enjoyable performances of the year without doubt by a woman with genuine, uncompromising talent and potential.

Set List:

Come To Me High
Am I Forgiven
Long, Long Day (Paul Simon cover)
Saving Grace
Take Me As I Am
On My Way Home
Alfie (Burt Bacharach cover)
Goodbye Girl
Stoned Soul Picnic ( Laura Nyro cover)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me