Posted: December 26, 2011 in Pop, Popular Music, Swing
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Caro Emerald shines lives at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK December 13th, 2011

Caro Emerald shines at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, December 13th 2011


I must confess I can hardly claim to be objective when writing this particular review. I have for several months been itching to see this artist following my first listening of her Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room floor album. Emerald’s fusion of musical genres with its essence firmly rooted in the mid 20th century jazz and swing is addictive. The rhythms and hooks that weave back and forth are so ridiculous catchy that you find yourself a’moving and a’grooving and humming the tunes all over your house.   In addition, due to a somewhat curtailed performance of 20 minutes at Radio 2 live festival in Hyde Park this summer, my need to see this live show just kept growing over the months. I finally got to scratch my itch at Shepherd’s Bush Empire where I and 2000 others were rewarded with a thrilling performance.

The artist herself apparently had also had a desire as she stated quite genuinely that she had been looking forward to this particular show for such a long time and noted that it had been long sold out. This was indeed the case. The Empire was packed to the rafters with a mature and highly appreciative audience.

Every track from the album was played along with new material – “Two Hearts” and to put us in the festive spirit a track called “You’re All I want for Christmas”. With a band very classically placed around the stage from left to right keyboard, decks, bass, 3 horns brass section and guitar, Caro sauntered into the centre of the stage in fifties style green swing dress (the first of  costumes during the show) and indeed started the swing thing going with “That Man”.

Follow that up with the seductive “ Just One dance” and you had the making of a smouldering combustible performance, except that this show was peppered with lighter hearted fun offerings as well. For example, “Riviera Drive” had, as the title suggested, the feel of going on summer road trip and you could almost imagine the horns following in a car behind as an accompaniment.

Caro was so  obviously proud of the song “Back it UP” that she on went at length to explain gave her the opportunity to record, having been called in by her 2 Dutch producers Jan van Wieringen and David Scheurs to replace a demo singer. The rest as they say is history as the collaboration took off. This extended “Back it Up” complete with a bit of classy scratching from the desks was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the show. Caro Emerald even got the crowd repeatedly singing the title for about 5 minutes.  Impressive extended solos to band members were also given on “Absolutely Me” where Caro took a backseat for a half of the song

The formidable arrangements for “Lipstick on his Collar” and “The Other Woman” could have come straight out of a grand James Bond movie score. But what made me want to get up swing (even on the 3rd floor balcony) was the infectious combination of old time jazz and swing of “You Don’t Love” interspersed with Caro’s passionate mournful crescendos. Absolutely brilliant!  The swirling bossa-nova style piano of “A Night Like This” brought the first part to a climax but it wasn’t long that Caro and her band were off stage.

It does seem compulsory these days artist must perform an obligatory cover but it’s alright when the cover is a decent song and the arrangement is original. So, to already rapturous applause, they returned to complete to perform The Cure number “ Close to Me” and a lively upbeat rendition of “Stuck” which recalled my summer holiday in Italy and an slapstick advert on Italian TV with a stranded girl in the sea, an octopus and a couple of lifeguards but we won’t go into that.

Fittingly in a 2nd encore, Caro brought the show to a close with a cover tribute  to Amy Winehouse of “Love is a Losing Game” on the very stage where one of the latter’s most memorable concert was recorded.  This was to be my final gig of 2011 but what an amazing way to end. Caro Emerald, her band and the musical arrangements are sensational.

  1. David says:

    Nice review! A little something in addition: Close To Me and Stuck are no covers but Caro’s own material:)

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