Paloma Faith: O2 Academy, Sheffield

Iconic songstress Paloma Faith brought her glamorous cabaret show to Sheffield’s O2 Academy last Monday, entertaining a sold-out crowd with her charming retro fashion.

Warming up the show was Mancunian singer-songwriter, Josephine, whose debut album caught the attention of several music publications and renowned musician-turned-presenter, Jools Holland. Sounding like an old blues singer in a new woman’s body, Josephine and her guitarist stood in front of a red velvet backdrop playing songs of a style that can only be described as ‘timeless’. This somewhat retro introduction left the crowd anxious for the inevitable spectacle that was soon to come.

As all lights in the room dramatically moved to the red velvet curtain and Paloma’s cockney voice began talking about her life before fame, the lady of the hour took to centre stage and shone out across the audience. Whilst Paloma stood as a poise statute, our eyes were blindingly fixated on the two wonderfully obscure hand-held fans and the gold dress that she had worn at the BAFTA’s the night before.

The grand piano beside her rang out with the memorable riff for ‘Let Your Love Walk In’: let the cabaret begin. After a few verses of Paloma singing with the piano and gracefully moving her flamboyant fans, the red velvet curtain pulled back to reveal the anticipated extravagant set. Quirky palm trees, steps, mirrors and a full 8-piece band: Paloma Faith will never do things simply, thank goodness.

Although the visual spectacle cannot be ignored, the most stand-out feature of the evening was, of course, the music. Smashing through nearly all of the tracks on her recent album, she had the crowd jumping, dancing, singing along and attempting to do her signature hand gestures.

The atmosphere was electric at the opening trumpet part for Stone Cold Sober, with the crowd of all ages collectively cheering and jiggling their hips to her iconic motown resurrection number. ‘New York’, her other smash hit from the debut album, spurred the crowd to recklessly sing their hearts out and alter their hip popping to a collective sway.

This Hackney-born singer’s theatrical background is certainly never going to be forgotten. Unlike most pop artists who sing a ballad standing still with their hand on their heart, Paloma spreads herself across the grand piano. Out of all of her incredible performances, ‘Just Be’ was the song that showcased her talent as an artist the most. As she gracefully fell about the piano, the crowd sang along in a way that they hadn’t previously; they sang it like they had written it. The silences in the chorus were impeccable. Every artist has a song that people can relate to; ‘Just Be’ is definitely hers.

Paloma Faith is an outstanding performer and has an absolute gem of a personality. She has a remarkable way of toying with the emotions of the audience. It was unbelievable how we could be laughing our heads off one minute and be stuck with lumps in our throats the next. Thankfully, her music is uplifting and liberating enough to plaster jaw-stretching smiles on our faces for the majority of the time.

Paloma Faith, please come back to Sheffield soon.