Laura Mvula @ Gorilla
We get floored by the ethereal songs of Laura Mvula
Words: Anthony Firmin Photos: Lucy Lamb/Anthony Firmin
Jodie Abacus and his band had just started their set as I arrived and although I knew nothing of him I was impressed straight away with his funky modern sound that encapsulated Roachford, Prince and Earth Wind And Fire. Bad Dreams was a cool song but She Is In Love With The Weekend really bounced along. Sadly, that was the end of the set even though the band had another song in the bag ready to keep the vibe going resulting in some boo's from the audience.
This is an interesting return to Manchester for Laura Mvula; on her last tour she played just across the road at the O2 Ritz where she put on an incredible performance. Tonight the small stage at Gorilla is cramped. Very cramped. With a cellist, guitarist, drummer, keyboard player, harpist and three backing singers as well as Mvula and her Keytar in this small area, she was hardly able to move; a precariously positioned drink went flying as she swung around said portable keyboard during the set.
The music was stunning with not a single person failing to be impressed by the delicate nature of her carefully crafted songs. With both old and new material sitting comfortably alongside each other the choice of material was interesting. In a club such as this you wouldn’t expect to hear such quiet numbers but the audience was so silent at times you could hear a pin drop, such was the respect she commanded and received.
In some respects she could even be described as “prog”: white keytar – check, harp player – check, King Crimson style poly-rhythms – check. The only thing missing is a 20 minute epic piece of music! All joking aside, this is progressive song writing and performing combining her African influences alongside her western style songs - a fusion which works perfectly.
Highlights of the set for myself and probably everyone else were Overcome, the incredibly powerful Show Me Love with an interesting prologue about the water scene at the end of the video, the incomparable Green Garden and Phenomenal Woman. The cover of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature was interesting but not really necessary considering the wealth and quality of her own material and the final song Make Me Lovely was simply the perfect ending to the show.
Many had travelled from all over the country for this show; I spoke to people from London, Nottingham and Leeds and everyone was simply in awe at how incredible this show was. Personally I cannot wait for her return.