REVIEW – Candi Staton & Paloma Faith @ Iveagh Gardens, Dublin. 15/7/2010
The sun shone as we walked across Harcourt Street so my hopes were high that the good weather would prevail for our evening in Iveagh Gardens. I even touched wood when I said ‘the weather might hold up’ just in case I jinxed it. Well, it didn’t last, and just after I had bought a pint drops of rain splashed into my glass. But, this being Ireland I shouldn’t expect more from the weather.
I was excited about the prospect of seeing Candi Staton, a favourite among the girls when we’ve had a drink or two. Then there was the headline act, Paloma Faith, a singer I have heard titbits of on the radio and been impressed with everything I’ve found on You Tube. In anticipation of the rain I contacted the organisers to ask if the gig was open air or under a roof like some of the other events that take place in Iveagh Gardens. I was told that the gig was in the open air and that umbrellas were not permitted so I dug out an old anorak and my friend left her umbrella at home for fear that it would be confiscated. When we had our drinks we joined the rest of the revellers in front of the stage we found that most of them had their umbrellas up keeping them dry, so as you can imagine we weren’t too impressed about that.
When Candi Staton came on stage the crowd gave her a muted cheer, mainly because the wet weather was making everyone shiver. But, that didn’t last long as the beautiful Candi got everyone going thanks to her energetic soul which ranged in tempo from fast to slow. We danced in the rain to a mash-up of Tammy Wynette’s Stand by your Man and Ben E. King’s Stand by Me and the crowd joined in, waving their arms and it wasn’t long before the rain was forgotten. Elvis was next on the menu and Candi gave us her own version of Suspicious Minds which got the crowd jumping and full of smiles. It was one of those moments when you look around and people in macs danced around spraying water wherever they went. The tempo then slowed down with In The Ghetto and still spirits remained high although the rain poured harder and harder.
Candi switched it up again with a bit of disco and her 1976 hit Young Hearts Run Free and there was no stopping the crowd then. The crowd at the front bounced to the beats and arms were waved in time to the music. Candi even managed to get a bit of crowd participation going, not bad for a torrential downpour. By now my pint was 25% rain water but I didn’t care as those instantly recognisable notes came through the speaker – yes, it was You’ve Got The Love (a song with an interesting background to which Candi owns half the copyright and publishing). So, as Candi ended her set the crowd sang every word and the mic was turned over to them for the chorus.
It’s strange to think of a musician with such a long career and number of hits being the opening act for a relative newcomer, but it was perfect for Candi Staton to open the show because she raised the crowd from a soggy mass of plastic raincoats and beer glasses to dancing and singing maniacs who couldn’t stop smiling – even Paloma could be seen at the side of the stage waving her arms in appreciation.
The last time Paloma Faith was in Dublin she sold out Vicar St, and although there was a sizeable crowd in Iveagh Gardens it was far from sold out. However, the weather may have played its part in keeping people away. As people waited a Dj played a mixture of 50s and 60s tunes and people huddled together under trees to keep dry. (I will post again on my views on the venue, but this one is about the music maaaaaaaan).
The stage was set for Paloma with what looked like a crown above a silver stage covered in mirrors. Some very funky musicians graced the stage with afros, mohicans and big red ribbons in abundance. Then on came Paloma in a fabulous black 50s inspired dress and killer platform heels in a vibrant red. She looked out to the crowd and said ‘you all look like lemmings’ a statement that would have been lost on anyone born in the early 1990s. (Oh no!) The crowd were still on a high so they danced to the fast numbers and swayed to slow numbers including Stargazer.
Then all of a sudden the sound went dead, it seemed like the rain had got the better of the PA and all I could hear was the backing singers singing away. Paloma didn’t realise there was no sound and members of the band looked at each other unsure what to do as audience members shouted ‘We can’t hear you’. I couldn’t hear much from Paloma herself so was she miming or was I just too far away? I wouldn’t like to assume either. Towards the end of the song she realised what was going on and she carried on as the speakers came back to life and her voice belted out the last bars of the song. She said ‘ You couldn’t hear me, but I sounded great up here’ and so some shouted ‘Sing it again’ – but she didn’t.
As Candi had given us an array of covers Paloma followed suit and did an amazing cover of The Korgis’s Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime and the crowd sang along and couples embraced. She then gave us the title track from her debut album ‘Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful’ and it was clear who were the Paloma fans as they knew the song word for word. More people piped up when her popular track Upside Down came on and even more for New York, which has been creating a splash on You Tube but doesn’t hit the shops until August 1st.
By this point the audience were well and truly soaked and most were past caring. As a newcomer to Paloma’s music it would be easy to compare her voice to her contemporaries, but that would be the obvious thing to do. Paloma has a distinctive sound of her own which is modern, yet borrows elements from soul divas of the past.
Her encore consisted of covers of jazz numbers which hailed back to Paloma’s cabaret days and she closed with an unforgettable cover of Etta James’ At Last and a reminder that she would be back in Ireland as part of her tour later this year. If you do get a chance to see Paloma Faith I would urge you to go, but try to avoid the rain.