mon 10/08/2020

Caro Emerald, Royal Albert Hall – an injection of sunshine for the weary soul | reviews, news & interviews

Caro Emerald, Royal Albert Hall – an injection of sunshine for the weary soul

Caro Emerald, Royal Albert Hall – an injection of sunshine for the weary soul

The Dutch superstar's UK tour swings through London in superb style

Caro Emerald lights up the stage with her Grandmono Orchestra Ed Fielding

“We will be taking you on a journey,” promises Caro Emerald at the start of tonight’s return to the Royal Albert Hall, which she last played back in April 2017 – and for the next 90 minutes, that’s what jazz-pop queen Emerald and her slick seven-piece band, the Grandmono Orchestra, do. Having bustled in from the cold and dark Halloween night, the audience is ready to be swept away to somewhere a lot more sunny.

Prior to departure, however, is a sombre, six-song set by Loren Nine – not a nine-piece jazz combo but a diminutive Dutch singer-songwriter who sits down at her keyboard and smilingly apologises for her “moodkiller” tales of heartbreak. The audience is, on the whole, enraptured by Nine’s clear, powerful voice that fills the Hall in impressive style (one person does have to deploy a comically loud “shh!” to a neighbour at one point, but it seems to do the trick) – and then it’s time to board Emerald’s party plane.

Stylised sunshine and palm tree graphics on a huge screen behind a stage illuminated with retro lights get the holiday theme going, before Emerald makes her entrance in a typically stylish ensemble – a black top and a metallic skirt with massive, multi-coloured ruffles. This lady is dressed for a party, and with songs like the irresistible “Tangled Up”, from second album The Shocking Miss Emerald, up her glamorous sleeve she soon gets one going.

On record, Emerald’s songs are slick, polished and can sometimes feel a little cool, but there’s no denying that as a live performer she’s a whole different story. The Royal Albert Hall is filled pretty much to capacity with a crowd mostly on the more mature side, and it’s a fully seated concert (apart from the standing gallery at the very top) – but Emerald is adept at connecting to her audience and making them feel part of the show. She gets the house lights up so she can coo at her adoring fans, and when she plays new song “Wake Up Romeo” Emerald predicts that dancing is going to happen – there's definitely a bit of British reserve in the air, but after a couple of brave men in the front row get to their feet, everyone throws caution to the wind.

Later in the set the mood turns more sultry, with Saul Bass-style graphics placing us in a jazz club called The Emerald, and Emerald slows it down a little with the smoky “Without Him” and acoustic rarity “Close to You”. She also gives a brief nod to Halloween with the slinky but not very spooky “The Ghost of You”, from current EP Emerald Island, but the crew dressed in skeleton outfits are a little more in keeping with the date, to be honest.

Monster hits “Liquid Lunch” and “That Man” get everyone up their feet again, and it's clear that the irrepressible Emerald is having an absolute blast on stage. Her band are incredible showmen, a clarinet player popping up in the stalls for a solo here, a synchronised horn section there, a drainpipe-trouser-wearing guitarist shuffling on white patent shoes and flinging his guitar round his neck with aplomb. The mood they create is just what we need in these chilly, dark and bleak times, and when they round things off with “A Night Like This”, it’s the perfect end to an uplifting and utterly joyous evening.

The mood Emerald and her band create is just what we need in these chilly, dark and bleak times


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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