30
Nov 08

I’ll show you to my bredren

FT2 comments • 234 views

“Am I allowed to swear?” Estelle is back in London after a European tour, and the deafening Indigo2 soundsystem is determined to help her mark out her territory from the off. She is decked out in an eye-watering sequinned dress (which worryingly seems to form a picture of Sinead O’Connor) and two-tone high heels, and proceeds to gleefully say ‘shit’ every other word, knowing full well that her entire family are in the audience. I’m sure she will wash her mouth out as soon as the gig is over.

Prior to ‘Come Over’ and ‘More Than Friends’ we are treated to some lengthy (and hilarious) anecdotes: “You know how when you end up going out with your best friend? And he comes over, 6 nights out of 7, and I cook for him and everything… Oh yeah, I can cook. Seriously girls, that is a Talent. Get yourselves a cook book. But then he says ‘but I’m not your boyfriend’? He has to GO! Yeah, I wrote a song about that, too.” In fact there’s so much banter I can barely keep up. Barack Obama, safe sex and the credit crunch all get their turn on the Estelle soapbox.

There’s barely any breathing space – slower numbers like ‘Back In Love’ are abruptly truncated and segued into something more upbeat, such as 2-step cover of Coldplay’s ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’. It’s a shame that the percussion and bass sometimes drown her out, because when she gets the chance Estelle makes her tricky vocals seem so effortless that it’s her speaking voice that sounds awkward by comparison. Even the bittersweet ‘Shine’ is sung at double speed, Estelle trading quickfire rhymes with her DJ and transforming a tale of struggle and disappointment into a triumphant homecoming.

Meanwhile I can’t stop staring at her fantastic legs. And that fringe. “I’ve got a new weave!” Estelle is fiddling with her hair like an overexcitable teenager. “And this is my tribute to Tina Turner! And the Supremes, and Tom Jones – I love him!” She hums a few bars of ‘It’s Not Unusual’ before erupting into the suitably-sixties pastiche ‘Pretty Please (Love Me)’. By now only the grumpiest members of the audience are still seated.

“This is my last song. But if you make enough noise then I’ll come back and do some more.” Rapturous cheers and whooping. “No, no, no! You have to do all that *after* this last song, that’s why it’s called an encore. OK, this is ‘American Boy’…” And with that she instantly flips into a Serious Dancing Pose, perfectly timed to the intro from ‘Groove Is In The Heart’. If there’s one way to ensure everyone dances along to a song they’ve heard hundreds of times already this year, it’s by splicing in a) Dee-lite b) at least two ABBA tracks c) ‘Show Me Love’ by Robin S – which more than makes up for the lack of a Kanye.

The promised encore gives the tight backing band a chance to show off (one of them producing a keytar from nowhere) and for Estelle to remind everyone that her career actually started in 2004, when no-one was paying attention. What didn’t kill her obviously made her stronger – Estelle can surely count herself as one of the most entertaining young performers in Britain today.

Comments

  1. 1
    Pete on 30 Nov 2008 #

    Oh get you, Granny Reviewer: “one of the most entertaining young performers in Britain today”. And we were watching Estelle before even 2004, her old UK Hip Hop days. I saw her in the rain in Springfield Park.

  2. 2
    Kat but logged out innit on 30 Nov 2008 #

    Behold the dangers of writing gig reviews at midnight, half-sozzled in gin.

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