Lianne La Havas at The Sugar Club on March 1oth 2011

Review: David Dooley
Photos: Abraham Tarrush 

Location can be a peculiar thing for live music. On the one hand it can be cold, practical and serve its purpose, on the other hand, it can add warmth and acoustic beauty to an artists already stunning catalogue. Luckily tonight was not one of those nights. Five minutes into Lianne La Havas’ performance you realise how perfectly suited the Sugar Club is to her style. From the restrained disco ball to the sloped, tiered seating; The Sugar Club does a great job hosting tonight’s performance.

Before Lianne La Havas hits the stage we have another very talented Londoner performing for us, Marques Toliver. Combining the looped violin song construction of Andrew Bird with soulful belting vocals of an X-Factor contestant who’s so good you wonder if they’re genuine. Thankfully for Toliver he is very genuine. Despite having lyrics that are very personal and reflective Marques Toliver performs whilst brimming with self-confidence and utter self conviction. Even his crowd interaction is second to none he gets the audience involved by having us emulate forest rain by slowly clicking our fingers. A technique so simple yet effective it has me baffled that I’ve never seen it used before.

Once Marques has left the stage we’re left with the fact that such a natural born performer will be very difficult to follow. Everything I’d heard from La Havas up to this point has been subtle and restrained. Her, a guitar and maybe some fleeting piano here and there. She stayed true to this formula as she opened her set with the tender ‘No Room For Doubt’. Any hustle and bustle from the audience is silenced leaving La Havas’ airy vocals to fill the room. Instead of trying to match Toliver’s bravado Lianne La Havas aims for less is more. This formula works great for a handful of songs but over the course of the set would it lose momentum and get boring? Thankfully we don’t have to find out. In preparation for her debut album Lianne has enlisted a very talented backing band. This gives songs such as ‘Forget’ a new lease of life. The scratching guitar is now backed by a stop-start rhythm that breaks into a shuffling hip-hop beat.

The minimalist guitar led songs reach their peak when we get to ‘Don’t Wake Me’. It gets treated to a beautiful four part backing harmony from the band that leads to instant comparisons to ‘Because‘ by The Beatles. Finishing off the night is the brilliant ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’ where we have Lianne loosening up a lot and just having some fun. Bringing elements of gospel into her sound for the sing along chorus which then gets broken down allowing her to introduce her band.

Closing the show on such a high has left GoldenPlec very excited for Lianne La Havas’ debut album which is released in July and as if we weren’t spoiled enough tonight by two flawless performances Lianne announces that she is returning to Dublin far sooner than anyone could have expected for a show in the Academy on May 9th, a show we’re now very much looking forward to. There was a band before called Kodaline who we were told were very good but unfortunately missed their set. Snaps of Kodaline are included below though.

Lianne La Havas Photo Gallery

Comments are closed.