Laura Mvula

Laura Mvula

– GORILLA, MANCHESTER –

A golden rule that I have picked up about writing is: show, don’t tell. As in, if a character is rude don’t say ‘He’s rude,’ have him do something rude. This rule, ‘show, don’t tell’ can be applied to other art forms, namely music and one which Laura Mvula might want to follow.

Back with a new album, The Dreaming Room after the success of 2013’s Sing To The Moon, expectation is high to see what is new with Laura Mvula.  After seeing her at Glastonbury in 2012 I expected a bright, bold performance. So, enter stage right Laura and her band all dressed in black. A curious start, but, she says she’s in the mood to go all out and she straps on a keyboard which, she jokes is her ironing board, Nina.

She starts with a song off her new album which is catchy enough, loud and captures the attention of an eager audience. She says that she will play the new album in its entirety, so although she says she wants to please the crowd her set list would suggest otherwise and three songs in, the mood is a little flat.She’s clearly a talented singer surrounded by a talented band which, includes her brother on cello and her sister on guitar but the content itself is somewhat lacking.

Before each song she offers an introduction: “I finished this song” she says “sent it off to my producer and then had my heart broken.” At this point there is a collective “Awwww” from the audience and the guy behind me shouts “He must be mad!” Clearly people feel her pain.

“So,” she says “I changed the title of the song to Kiss My Arse and this raises laughter from the audience. But the song fails to sum up heartache, anger, sadness or anything associated with a broken heart except the title and although I like her and I am sorry that happened to her, it still doesn’t mean the song itself is any good.

She engages the crowd with sing a longs purely on the strength of her on stage charisma, yet they’re hardly of the feel good variety: “You can’t live with the world on your shoulders” she sings wanting the crowd to sing it back which they gamely do so that I am treated to a loud, out of tune version from the man behind me five times over.

The second sing a long is less melancholy and more just bizarre to the point where I can’t help but laugh “Lay the breadcrumb down” she says. Did she have a bad experience with a chicken kiev? Why should we sing that? My sister turns to me: “You not joining in then?” “No” I reply, a little grumpy by this point and it seems no one else can bring themselves to either.

“These are my last two songs” she says and the crowd actually cheer and she treats us to ‘Green Garden’ from her first album, and the energy in the crowd instantly lifts, she follows this with ‘That’s Alright’, also from her first album. This is the Laura Mvula I came for and it’s not because I know the songs, it’s because the energy, tone and originality are exciting. She can say the new album is great all she likes, but it has to actually be great before I can believe it and the best test of that, is the response from the crowd.

Laura Mvula  Official | Facebook | Youtube

When people ask me what music I am in to, I find it very hard to give a definitive answer because, throughout my life I have been in to all kinds of different music from House to Heavy Metal depending on how old I was, what I was doing at the time and the kind of people I was hanging out with. So I can safely say I am open to most things as long as it’s good but obviously that is entirely subjective and open to interpretation, which I guess is what Silent Radio is all about. However, I would say that overall my alliances lie with Electronic Music because it covers so many genres and is constantly developing and changing. Having just returned from Sonar I felt a warm glow being surrounded by so many people who appreciate Electronic Music but there were times when I became a little jaded and questioned its integrity especially after seeing Katy B perform for the 3RD TIME! Will Katy B still be remembered in six years? I doubt it. But I guess that is the nature of Pop Music in particular; some stand the test of time, some don't. I think having grown up and lived in Manchester my musical tastes have been influenced by the club scene post- hacienda and the music at nights like Electric Chair which encompasses the sounds of House, Detroit Techno, Disco, Soul, Funk and Hip Hop. Basically anything with a groove, I like. But this is not confined to Dance Music I particularly like bands that are melodic and have a hook such as Wild Beasts, music that captures an emotion and has a heart. While at University I was also listening to music that didn’t really have much of a heart but more of a pacemaker in terms of the emotion it conveyed and that was Electro-Clash, a completely non- sensical and at times ridiculous genre that borrowed elements from House, Italio Disco and Techno and re- formed them in to one fun, but ridiculous package. While at University, I had my own radio Show where I tried to convey some of my musical tastes acquired from up north and had guest DJ's from a night in New Cross called Zombie Disco, with Jamie from Zombie Disco now working with Lindstrom. We also borrowed the services of Rina from Ladytron who had a guest DJ slot. Anyhow, I think it is safe to say I like a wide range of music apart from Katy B, sorry Katy.