Paloma Faith – Mercury Lounge – 11/27/12


Better Than: A pint-sized Jessica Rabbit/Betty Boop hybrid in a pillbox hat. Drunk.

These characters and their sexy, bubbly, potentially psychotic tendencies all came to mind while I watched Paloma Faith scale a bunch of fake palm trees at the Mercury Lounge last night. Her set time was apparently cut by 15 minutes (as she repeatedly joked throughout her 49 minutes onstage), but Faith didn’t scrimp on drama, delivery or baring it all with her signature, boisterous belt. Though Fall to Grace, her sophomore album, is dropping in the US next Tuesday (12/4), the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd matched Faith word for word and belted her songs back at her as she steamrolled Grace‘s tracklist.

Paloma Faith performs again this Friday at the Knitting Factory .

From “Picking Up The Pieces”–Grace‘s first single, and the set’s vivacious opening number–to her “best one yet” (as she calls it), “Just Be,” Faith had the packed room eating out of her twirling, balletic hands from start to finish–even if she faltered on a scale once or twice, and even though a high note or few came off more strident than soaring. Joined by Dom Pipkin, who channeled Mozart at his most eccentric on keys, “Agony” served as one of Faith’s strongest moments, one that would’ve worked as easily beneath the ornate proscenium of a revered concert hall as it did within arms reach of her rowdy brethren at a rock club.
It’s amazing that Faith can give such an exceptional voice to a cabaret-worthy persona as seemingly tawdry and borderline obnoxious as hers, she who would give a Mae West or a hammered Lucille Ball a run for their money on facial expressions alone. The balance between garish and godly is a delicate one for Paloma Faith, and perfectly in between the extremes. The girl’s found an exquisite spot for cinematic grandeur, naughty banter and a song to dance to no matter how shitty things get.

Critical Bias: Adele, Duffy, Amy, Kate, Marina, Bat for Lashes: I’m a full-blown auricular anglophile and I cannot be helped when it comes to infectious, feisty pop balladry from Britain.

Overheard: “This is a moment of liberation, and you have three options: Hug the person next to you, snog the person next to you or we’ll all take our clothes off.” I didn’t spot anybody ripping their shirts off or making out after Faith ordered everyone to let loose before ripping into a rendition of “Blood, Sweat and Tears,” but I’m sure everybody at the very least mentally hugged the person next to them.

Random Notebook Dump: Before triumphantly announcing that her set would clock in at 49 minutes despite the 45-minute suggestion, Faith and her band dragged her manager, Innis Ferguson, up for an impromptu birthday celebration, complete with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the room and one sugarbomb of a candlelit cake.

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