Scott Ford heads along to Cornwall’s Eden Project for the head of Hackney eccentricity, Paloma Faith, with support from Nottingham’s Liam Bailey.
“Since when was I adhering to any kind of protocol?”
This is what Paloma Faith laughs to the audience at the climax of her set, dwarfed by the glass domes of the Eden Project, as she jokes that we should ask her back on for an encore. She adds, “I have three albums worth of songs to play!” and “You might hear one from my first album which you can probably get in the petrol station for £1.99” before winking and skipping off stage. It’s this sort of approach that makes Faith stand out in the crowded female pop singer scene, you can tell that she doesn’t take herself seriously as she wiggles her bum and shows off a back tattoo. More importantly, she genuinely looks like she’s having as much fun as we are.
She follows Liam Bailey’s set, who played songs from his debut album, Definitely NOW. He manages to fill the arena with his incredibly soulful voice, even though it seems that most of the audience are unfamiliar with his material. He does, however, perform an acoustic version of Chase & Status mega hit ‘Blind Faith’ as his last song, which he co-wrote with the London electronic duo, and it goes down a treat.
Paloma Faith swaggers on stage after her 1950s-styled backing band, complete with gold suits and giant saxophone, with a massive grin across her face. She notes that, ironically, for someone so full of energy and bounding around the stage in high heels, most of her songs are on the depressing subject matter of break ups and lost loves. At one point she gives thanks for someone who apparently inspired a lot of what she played tonight. I imagine that many in the audience are thankful too as she tears through songs from her three albums, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? (2009), Fall to Grace (2012) and 2014’s A Perfect Contradiction.
Songs such as ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and ‘Can’t Rely On You’ get the crowd moving with rapid jazz drumming and saxophone solos, Faith makes her intentions clear: “I want everyone to dance and have a good time!”. Faith manages to throw a little bit of everything into her set, flashes of jazz, funk, rock, a screaming brass section and, at one point, a guitar solo that could have come straight from a grunge band. Her ends with her collaboration with DnB sensations Sigma, ‘Changing’, getting the entire arena moving and illuminated biomes to pulse in time with the music.
It’s evident that puts everything into a show, but manages to win the audience over with her personality as she pauses between songs to chat. Faith comes across as quirky and funny, she jokes about multiple orgasms, nuclear war and bargain-basement CDs and makes the arena vibrate with laughter as well as cheers. Again, she is a walking juxtaposition, a world away from the content of her songs. Despite this, for her penultimate song Faith does ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This’ and jokes that she wants to turn Eden into a “Giant water feature”. She’s not wrong, it would take a very cold person to not feel anything when she’s down on her knees belting out the titular chorus.
That’s the thing with Paloma Faith, she may be tiny but she has the voice of someone twice the size. She sounds no different live than any recording on her albums, if you close your eyes during upbeat thumper ‘Take Me’ you could be listening to it through headphones, she really is that good. It’s only when you open them again and she’s dancing in heels on top the piano without a care in the world that you really it’s live and just how fun her show actually is.