IT MIGHT just have been my imagination, but there was something about Caro Emerald‘s show at the Philharmonic on Saturday night that made it feel very much like an event.
Perhaps it was that the date had sold out months ago, perhaps it was just that the Dutch singer and the Phil seemed like a marriage made in heaven, or perhaps it was the thrill of seeing an obviously rising star in an intimate, beautiful venue.
Whatever. The moment the dazzling Miss Emerald – which I’ve always felt would have been a more fitting epithet for her second long-player than shocking – swept onto the stage to a rapturous reception before even singing a note, she had the audience entirely in the palm of her hand.
Her jazzy pop, with its shades of hip-hop making it resolutely 2013, has undoubtedly touched a nerve in the past six months, with that second album topping the charts and the likes of Liquid Lunch and Tangled Up storming both the charts and radio playlists across the land.
It’s often said that in tough economic times, it is sales of luxury goods that suffer least and Emerald‘s music certainly falls into that category.
It feels like a treat and the set, which succeeds in turning the Phil into a fair approximation of a 1940s jazz club, is just part of the reason why the Caro Emerald live experience is an almost entirely fabulous one.
If her records can seem a little one dimensional and samey at times, that is surprisingly less of a problem live, especially given the fact that her show is two hours and 23 songs long.
She’s a magnificently watchable performer, pulling off the neat trick of coming across as sassy and sexy – that explains the number of men in the audience, then – while appealing to women as well.
Her voice, too, is powerful, strong and distinctive, marking her out clearly from the countless other female vocalists out there today – and it’s even more impressive live.
Despite all that, though, she’s wise enough to share the spotlight with her band, and not just to make time for two costume changes.
Their Duane Eddy-style instrumental and extended brassy jams provide nice interludes in a set which veers from slinky (Paris, a marvellous The Wonderful in You, which outstrips its outstanding recorded version), through filmic (Black Valentine and I Belong To You, her open audition for James Bond producers) – to thrillingly effervescent (Pack Up the Louie, Dr Wanna Do, That Man).
She ends with a twin-language version of Jacques Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away). A splendid end to a quite splendid night.
By Andrew Greenhalgh