St. James Church, Piccadilly
added: 30 May 2012
// gig date: 24 May 2012
reviewer: Claudia A
Here’s a girl with a big voice, a voice made to turn any cover version into something exciting - yet, last week’s intimate gig sadly lacked kick and spice.
Performing a one-hour show in the grand setting of St. James Church, Rumer
opted for an evening of cover versions, promoting her latest album ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Befittingly dressed in an elegant black lace dress (bordering on conservative), the singer was flanked by several musicians and three backing singers.
Despite sweltering heat outside and no air conditioning inside, the show was well attended by an audience comprised of young and old, with the majority being of the middle-aged, easy listening-music variety. Somehow, that already said something about the current musical output of La Rumer.
Starting off with ‘Travelling Boy’ and ‘It Could Be The First Day’, her magnificent voice and her highly skilled band sure made this a joy to listen to. She announced the next number ‘P.F. Sloan’, a cover by American singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb
, with the words “Last night I spoke to P.F. Sloan himself on the phone…” Not sure how one can speak to a song, but it added mystery to a brilliant track. It would have been nice to hear Rumer’s take on another great Jimmy Webb song, namely ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’, but the singer deliberately choose some lesser known numbers for her cover versions repertoire.
Ironically, the tone of the show was set with the aptly titled ‘Take Me As I Am’, for it now became evident that no matter how well the songs were performed, they were performed in a way that seemed too safe and sanitized for a singer of Rumer’s calibre. That is where the skill of a songwriter comes in: to take an original and make it into your own by adding edge and giving it an unexpected twist. No sign of that here though, despite Rumer’s impeccable knack for rich harmonies and tunes belted out to perfection!
Next, Rumer was happy to introduce a number she described as simply superb, namely Towns van Zandt’s
‘Flyin’ Shoes’ – a song about the American Civil War. Indeed, this rendition turned out to be a highlight – full of soul and compassion without the gloomy feel of the original.
On a par were the Isaac Hayes
cover ‘Soulsville’ thanks to injecting some groove, and ‘Sara Smile’ by Jimmy Wayne/Hall & Oats
Other covers like Leon Russell’s
‘My Cricket’, as well as ‘Be Nice To Me’ and ‘Aretha’ all were delivered slick and smoothly, with the result that the show – or the way the songs were performed, more to the point – lacked variety. Thankfully, the same can’t be said for the actual choice of material – Rumer has opted to cover a wide range of songs by male artists from the 70’s that most of the audience would not have been familiar with. Another highlight was Neil Young’s
‘A Man Needs A Maid’ – then Rumer thanked everyone for coming along, humbly confessing (after recent stints on Jools Holland and The White House, no less!), “I’m just beginning, this is a wonderful journey.”
Here then some advice to carry you through your ongoing journey, Miss Rumer: sometimes, it does pay off to take more adventurous routes, while taking risks has never harmed any artist. Nothing is gained in this life by playing too safe, unless your goal is to sound like the musical entertainment on a cruise ship. Which, presumably, is not your goal. © Photo of Rumer by Christie Goodwin/Redferns
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