Melanie Fiona @TheLuminaire, London | Live Review

‘Twas a cold December night and my mission was to observe some soul music in the form of Melanie Fiona supported by Nathan Watson in the cosy (and warm) venue The Luminaire, Kilburn.

Nathan Watson was first to take the stage and hit us with some of his original material, the Curtis Mayfield inspired ‘Watz Goin’ On,’ ‘Soulsisticated,’ and ‘Somebody Help Me.’ His music bounced between being super funky and super smooth. ‘Leave Me Alone’ was a sort of old country/blues/soul mix, in the same vein as ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’

Watson also played his forthcoming single ‘Reach Out’ and at times reminded me of Finlay Quaye. He closed with a few covers, an uptempo and funkier version of ‘Ordinary People,’ ‘Superstition’ and ‘I Want To Take You Higher.’ All this soul funk left the crowd salivating for the headline act.

Miss Fiona burst on stage with a whole load of energy, attitude and a hat covering her eyes to the track ‘Ay Yo’ from her album The Bridge. She carefully wove mini covers as interludes into tracks, such as Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang (He Shot Me Down)’ into ‘Bang Bang’ and Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’ into ‘Stop My Heart.’

The Motown sound was in full effect on ‘Please Don’t Go (Cry Baby)’ ‘Johnny’ and ‘Monday Morning’ with the drummer hitting the backbeat so hard, I’m surprised he didn’t break the snare into a thousand pieces. Add to this the well rehearsed dance routines by the backing singers and Melanie Fiona herself getting in on the dancing action and you could well have been mistaken for being in the Motown era.

Melanie Fiona bought the Island vibe on ‘Sad Songs’ and ‘Somebody Come Get Me’ the latter she had recorded under the moniker Syren Hall. As the night progressed, she ditched her jacket and hat, affording the crowd a clearer look at her wide smile and long locks.

As she rolled through the rest of The Bridge with ‘Teach Him,’ the sexy ‘Give It To Me Right,’ the commercial leaning ‘Priceless’ and the Prince influenced ‘It Kills Me,’ it became more and more apparent that ‘MF’ knew how to work a crowd with her interaction and with her powerful vocals.

Melanie Fiona treated us to an exclusive as she gave us the first outing of new track off her forthcoming album, The MF Life. I am unsure of the name of the track as she didn’t mention it, however it was emotionally charged and about losing somebody and them not coming back.

Before the night was out, MF hit us with a couple of covers, one by fellow songwriter and friend Bruno Mars in the form of ‘Grenade’ and another by fellow Canadian Alanis Morisette in the form of the classic ‘Ironic.’

Exiting stage left, Melanie Fiona put on a wonderfully energetic show with some great live arrangements and really put across her key influences and wonderfully warm personality.