Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Spreading Rumer, but not quite Nico

Remember Nico  beautiful   songstress, time of the Velvet Underground, storytail songs ? We're rather fond of  her, here at VF, those lovely ballads of lovers, those days, the mixture of  femme   fatale and vulnerability. So to the Tabernacle tonight, that hallowed sanctuary of all things arty from 5 x 15   to the notorious Rotten Hill Gang (our resident bad boy band) where the much hyped Anglo-Pakistani songstress Rumer promised to follow in the trial blazed by the lovely Nico. Check out the home page, there's a rather lovely picture of her, with dark pointy nipples visible under chiffon. Sexy. 

This is a difficult one. No "ethnic" act has ever broken into the mainstream music scene, by cashing on on bhangra, Bollywood or general subcontinental chic, there have been one hit wonders such as Jay Sean, whose single did well and whose album flopped. It's a cool idea to take a zaftig (look it up) Indobrit chic and give her a jazzy sassed up style, crooner-songs of life and love, like a lounge lizard. Rumer is not cashing in on her "complicated" background or her ethnicity. She sounds like any one of a number of young, well-educated London girls who sing in nice London accents, without dropping their Ts and swallowing their Hs, it's a decidedly British song-style.   She has a good voice but tremored a little on some of the top notes and couldn't really hit the deep, sexy jazz-ass mama low notes, she misses the low evocative woodwind tones of Natalie Merchant and can't dance and dart her way around her tune lyrically in the same way. Which can be  restrictive. Some of her own songs were a little too big for her. But here are the shoes.

The crowd was an urban London mob, mid 30s to late 40s, who all seemed to know the words to all the songs. She didn't really warm up till the third song, "Take me there", a lovely ballad  with the haunting words, "if this love is unconditional, take me there" and the gorgeous "Ode to Time," which tells of the temporal nature of the stars and the moon, ( an Achilles heel, any mention of anything planetary, especially lunar lyrics that'll get you at least four stars)  which were song stories in the style of KD Lang or Joni Mitchell.

There were  attempts at B-I-G show tunes such as  "Alfie" and "Goodbye Girl" but sadly no big black showgirl voice belted out, à l'Amérique, think  Minelli or Streisand or more recently Natalie Merchant  who can hold a tune or ten thousand.

Rumer's  lyrics are lovely, devotional, sometimes  poetic. The tunes stand alone, as well as links in the chain of the story, which ended on a high note and the new release "Aretha"  But my girl doesn't move. Maybe it's a subcontinental thing, Asian women (and I am one before you bark at me)  are not overtly sexy on stage. Unless they are hamming it up and dancing in wet saris  in Bollywood films. Her arms were safely glued to her waist, although there was some below-elbow movement and she moved from foot-to-foot, shifting her weight. She had good shoes. Liked the shoes. A lot.   But Rumer really needs to loosen up and spread a bit. There was little banter between her and the crowd, who lapped up her every word and clearly wanted much more.  She asked if anyone was there from her Facebook group (they were), she chatted about learning how to cook in a vegan kitchen in a Dorset hippy commune. More of this and wave your arms around a bit more, build up some steam and this Rumer's going to go  grow wings and fly far.

Altogether sweet, enjoyable and the crowd and ambience of the Tabernacle was  the perfect, intimate venue for  her range  and the  songs.  She's got the backing of musico heavyweights such as Jools Holland and Burt Bacharach, Mr Lounge Lizard himself who when he heard about her, paid for her to go to sunny California and sing for him.  How sweet.

More dates on her tour here 

She's supporting Jools Holland in London later this month. Nuff said. 

No comments:

Post a Comment