The opening song from Lianne La Havas is Green & Gold, from her new (and second) album, Blood. As she sings, the background lighting is appropriately green, while her voice is unquestionably golden. It’s been a pretty good week for La Havas, as Blood has just been nominated for a Grammy Award, in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category.
Early in her set, La Havas delivers a haunting rendition of Wonderful, her strong voice tempered by an aching vulnerability. “Electricity lingers…”, she sings. Indeed, it does. By this stage, she already has the audience in the palm of her hand. She greets them and it’s time for a small confession. Apparently on her last visit to Glasgow, she had “…a little fall, related to my massive heels.” On this showing, It must have been a very rare misstep.
Her voice is quite remarkable, equally comfortable exhibiting emotional fragility (as evidenced on Ghost where she is simply mesmerising) and also showcasing its raw power (ably demonstrated on Lost & Found). The range and variety in her vocal range is perfectly complemented by the strength and variety of her finely crafted music. She has songs to inspire dancing, songs to make you smile, and songs which can break your heart.
Unstoppable is another highlight (in an evening featuring many of them), her vocals soaring majestically. The lyrics reference “gravitational effects” and the crowd are indeed happily trapped in orbit around her.
La Havas asks (very politely, as she is nothing if not well-mannered) for some audience participation while she sings Grow. Since she and the Glasgow audience basically now form a mutual appreciation society, there is no need to ask twice. The crowd sing along with enthusiasm and La Havas proclaims them to be “the best ever.”
We are informed that Midnight is a song that was made in Jamaica. It is on this number that at times, her voice nudges into top gear while still having plenty in reserve, ably complemented by strong backing vocals.
On Age, La Havas slightly modifies the original lyrics in a venue-specific way, to confide that, “He’s not the one for me because I fancy Scottish men.” Clearly, as well as being immensely talented, this lady has impeccable taste.
As her set draws to its close, she thanks the crowd who have been “Amazing!” before singing Tokyo as the last number. Well, not really the last number, since if ever a performance deserves an encore, it’s this one. Sheepishly, she returns to stage, confiding “I lied about it being the end of the show…as you might have guessed.” This white lie is the only false note La Havas has hit all night.
She ends the night with Gone, accompanied only on keyboards, before her band returns for “an angry song”, Forget. The crowd are invited to dance along to the latter, “…even though it’s Wednesday…I won’t stop you!”
Finally, she thanks the audience (both old friends and new), her band and the venue staff. She promises to return soon and that they will try to leave the dressing rooms as tidy as possible. In every sense, Ms. La Havas is a class act.