Singing with honesty and a raw release
Lianne La Havas - Live At Village Underground, London

Standing front and centre in her bold black and gold dress, Lianne La Havas sweetly put her tardiness down to the fact she was navigating her great grandmother and mother through the effortlessly cool venue. Needless to say, all was forgiven as she opened her set with ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’, which warmed the room thanks to her generous and giving presence. Lianne relayed the gentle love song with a cool ease that played nicely to her honeyed vocals and relaxed nature.

The lighting graduated to a moody blue complete with church-like shapes as we watched Lianne begin her foray into ‘Au Cinema’ with its New York imagery and magical movie suggestions. Standing there all asymmetric hair and guitar to heart, it was near impossible not to be drawn into this young lady’s love-laden world, even when she was singing about the loss of it.

A huge part of Lianne’s appeal was her youthful naivety and unabashed excitement at playing live to such a receptive audience. However, it was at roughly midway through her one-and-a-half-hour set, that we were privy to a slightly different persona. Lianne started singing in a stronger tone displaying a feminine prowess that was previously neatly tucked behind an almost Corrine Bailey Rae-sweetness. We couldn’t help but wonder if this was the voice Prince first heard because we definitely need more of this Lianne!

Clearly an artist of the current generation, there was no shyness when it came to plugging the album, creating hand-hearts for the live video camera and discussing iTunes deluxe editions.

Following a few pensive numbers that were odes to an ex-boyfriend who “sadly couldn’t be here”, Lianne apologised to her mother and delved into the sensual ‘Tease Me’. Keeping with the coquette theme, we were treated to her song ‘Age’ after Lianne shared some of her grandmother’s wisdom; “It’s better to be an old man’s sweetheart than a young man’s slave.”

Explaining that the next track didn’t “need guitar, only whiskey”, Lianne stood alone in the spotlight and shone with her original ‘Gone’, the third song she wrote on guitar. Singing with honesty and a raw release, this multi-instrumentalist was at her best when she let go and unleashed that fabulous jazzy rasp, of which we only saw snippets.

Gracious to the end, Lianne took photos of the audience at her sold-out album launch and sweetly said goodbye. This clever songstress might be something of a special rough diamond and here’s hoping we get to see more of the grittier and lived-in Lianne through her continuing catalogue of songs.

Words by Natalie Reiss
Photo by Richard Gray

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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