In Love With Lianne La Havas

Where:        The Village Underground, Shoreditch

When:          Monday 16th July 2012


A month ago I wrote that Lianne La Havas was my number one trail-blazer for 2012; Check out the definitive list here: Writing on the cusp of her debut album release, I knew that she’d enchant the UK, and without hesitation Lianne’s album ‘Is your love big enough’ has made it to No4 already! Tonight’s gig acted as a celebration of the lovely Londoners amazing achievement. With Prince personally ringing her to show his support, the 22 year old had huge expectations to meet. I was anxious to see that she would live up to the pedestal I’d eagerly placed her on too…

Although I was running late we arrived just in time to see the supporting artist, Kimbra perform her last number. Kimbra is the New Zealand native that came to English attention on Gotye’s chart monster ‘Somebody that I used to know’. Reminiscent of Regina Spektor, her performance of ‘Settle Down’ was a fun, feel good way to kick off the night. Using a Loop recorder, some beat boxing and scatting, what ensued was a gorgeous and surprisingly soulful experience. She is definitely an artist worth watching right now; her album ‘Vows’ is a tasty offering of experimentation and infectious chorus’.

Following Kimbra, the leading lady took to the stage with a dazzling smile and her warm, genuine personality. She giggled as the crowd cheered, describing her recent success as overwhelming and seemed surprised at the love emanating from the audience. Although her excitement was tangible, she was completely relaxed. The surprisingly confident guitarist visually painted her memories across the stage, embellishing each story with her signature brilliance. Tuesday night’s support artist Mara Carlyle helped provide the pitch perfect harmonies and precise acapella breakdowns, with a similarly capable band supporting them both. As Lianne said she felt like crowd surfing, the feeling was entirely mutual.

Miss La Havas was happy to briefly put down her guitar to show off her sensual sheer panelled floor length gown. When my boyfriend turned to me and said, “who would ever break up with her?” I couldn’t have agreed more. She oozes confidence, class and down to earth sexiness. Her fascinating talent and approachable carefree attitude touched the audience too. When a wardrobe malfunction saw her split her dress she said, “My bum’s too big…but that’s ok, I’m a woman!” Untarnished by the conveyor belt styling that often comes with many celebrities, the Jamaican/Greek Londoner felt like an immensely talented girl next door.

One of my personal highlights of the evening was the beautiful smile painted across Lianne’s face as she sang the tongue in cheek anthem ‘Age’. She engaged with the audience and didn’t take herself too seriously for this number. Lianne later dedicated her break up banger ‘Forget’ to her ex. The very broad spectrum of people (many over 30) may have been the reason why the crowd didn’t dance however, while the crowd politely nodded, I fought the urge to skank! Lianne has the skill to gracefully draw on break ups as inspiration, without any hint of masked longing. With her playful nostalgia, she doesn’t look back in anger, but in laughter having successfully purged herself of any prior pain.

‘Empty’ was pure atmospheric indulgence with warm mood lighting and soft silky vocals that swirled round the Village Underground. She effortlessly glides up to the notes rather then screeching through them a la Alicia Keys during ‘No-One’. She masters just enough vibrato to leave the crowd tingling and maintained this delicate perfection through out.

Her breath-taking rendition of ‘Gone’ made my hairs stand on edge, as the suspense built to dizzying heights. Like watching an artist bring his canvas to life, the ballad expressed her emotional emancipation beautifully.  She is just as flawless as her recordings and literally blew me away. Lianne often totters on the edge of Whitney-esque power notes but reigns herself back in; it would be amazing to experience the full velocity of her voice in future.

Lianne finally threw out the rulebook (and set list) to make Jill Scott’s ‘He loves me’ her encore. This refreshingly summery take on the soulful heavyweight showcased her musical agility and scope as an artist. The performance was immaculate with just Lianne, her guitar and enough talent to bring the charts to its knees.

Thus, I left with a spring in my step and a smug little smile coupled with that satisfying feeling you get when everything is just as you expected it. I could have listened to her all night long. It is undeniable that this talented, deserving songstress is more than ready to fill the void that Adele’s maternity leave has created. My love was most definitely big enough, and so was everyone else’s!


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