After a month of excellent in-person performances of various musical and theatrical genres and styles, the Edinburgh International Festival ends with on a euphoric high with a spectacular performance from Laura Mvula.
Promoting her third studio album, Pink Noise, the music and atmosphere at Edinburgh Park are electric from the get-go. Matching her aesthetic to the album’s 80s-pop theme, Mvula appears onstage in an oversized, aqua blazer with a hot pink keytar in tow. To be frank, she looks f*cking cool. Then begins the opening to her first track, Safe Passage, and we are all blown away.
Mvula’s voice is sensational. Every note is glorious, filling the large outdoor venue. Everything feels heightened, from the power of Mvula’s voice to the amplified synths that gives the songs their edge. With each song, you can hear echoes of eighties artists yet it still feels fresh and contemporary. Credit must also be given to the band who effortlessly transition between each song and are a tight-knit unit throughout. In particular, backing vocalist and keys player, Oli Rockberger, does all he can to match Mvula’s level and does a solid job emulating Biffy Clyro’s lead Simon Neil during What Matters.
The joy of being back in front of a live audience resonates from Mvula and the band and is met with rapturous applause, cheers, and foot stomps from the seated audience. Throughout the performance, the music’s beat and Mvula’s energy are both so infectious that it’s hard to not break the social-distancing rules by getting up and dancing along with her. When Mvula does encourage the audience to get up and move towards the end of her set, most people take her up on the offer.
The only downside to the evening? The show isn’t long enough! Though Mvula manages to stretch a 34-minute album into an hour-long performance – adding in a few older songs and a slower, stunning reprise of Church Girl during her encore – everyone clearly wants more. Still, that shouldn’t be used against Mvula, who has enraptured her audience tonight with an incredible night of music to close what has been a triumphant return to live performances in Edinburgh. After a five-year wait, Mvula’s fans have certainly been awarded for their patience.