Review: Paloma Faith – The SSE Arena, Belfast
Fresh from her self-confessed maternity leave, platinum-selling singer Paloma Faith graced the stage in the SSE Arena in Belfast on Friday night.
Blasting out songs from her most recent and number one album, The Architect, the blonde Londoner strutted down a set of stairs wearing a quirky purple suit with glittering shoes to match the stage, which was littered with jagged diamonds, accompanied by a large halo overlooking the stage with similar décor.
From title track she poured herself into ‘Cry Baby,’ the lead single taken from the album, released in the fourth quarter of 2017. She was joined by a full band and back-up vocalists with similar attire, who helped give a brilliant performance. But it was Paloma’s signature vocals that stood out, showing she doesn’t need autotune to be a hitmaker in this day and age.
Despite being happy in her relationship and recording the majority of this album whilst pregnant, a lot of her songs depict what we can all relate to, breakup and heartbreak.
Following new track, ‘Guilty,’ she addressed the audience for a significant amount of time, very dissimilar to other artists who just get on with it. But the 36-year-old had a joke and carry on with the audience, making a lot of them laugh at her own expense.
“Hello, Belfast,” she waved, “I’m so happy to be here with people who know how to enjoy themselves. It’s lovely to play to an audience that can smile and clap.”
She admitted to the crowd that she was worried that, like some other women who go on maternity leave, she could have no job to come back to, before thanking them again for coming.
“During my time off I was reading more about the world and what my baby would think about what I was thinking about whilst they were in my tummy. When I got pregnant I had this idea that I was going to have this perfect birth.”
Cue another roar of laughter from the crowd, filled with a lot of middle-aged women who we can guess have experienced the same expectations. She went on to confess that her water broke two months early and she was asked to come into hospital every 48 hours to make sure that everything was okay. “I’m sure that never happened to Beyonce,” she chuckled.
Post-pregnancy brought the regular worries about what way her body had become, but she learnt to accept her flaws. “We as humans always moan about our bodies. But we are all miracles.”
She then broke into ‘My Body,’ a song about, you guessed it, dealing with such situations.
Continuing the theme of acceptance, she said: “I feel very upset and disheartened about the world we live in right now. It’s trendy for people to be a******s.”
Talking about the woes of the internet and how she was brought up in a house where she was taught if you don’t have anything nice to say then to not say anything at all, she got jeers and cheers from the audience, with a few Northern Irish accents belting out from the darkness: “Go on ya girl ye.”
She admitted she wanted to spread an epidemic of kindness, and followed it up with a song called ‘I’ll Be Gentle,’ from her new album which features US star John Legend, but was joined on stage by her guitarist who had a surprisingly good voice for not opening his mouth exclusively until this performance.
‘Just Be’ saw her dramatic side come out as everyone else left and she lay thespian-like on top of the piano. What followed was quite an emotional and thought-provoking story. She told of how she was walking through London one day, and saw a man getting arrested. “They were smashing his face into the concrete.”
It turns out that it was her first ever boyfriend that she was with for a few years when she was 13. She told of how, because he was black, he was always called out of class despite the profile for the accused having no fit to his build or hair length, and she believes that if you call someone something often enough that they’ll become just that.
They could’ve taken completely different paths and he was very musically talented as well, it could’ve been him standing on that stage and her in jail. “This is for him,” she said as ‘Kings and Queens’ proceeded.
“It’s time for you all to stand up and dance. It’s Friday night, there’s no work tomorrow,” she laughed as she proceeded to play single ‘Picking Up The Pieces.’ The crowd were on their feet stamping, clapping, dancing and singing along as she walked through them, a few lucky fans even got a hug or even a cheeky kiss.
‘WWIII’ proceeded, as she told of her woes regarding terrorism and relating to the people of this country, saying that we know more than anyone of the impact. She admitted she didn’t believe in war or violence of any kind, cementing her pacifist self as the nicest women in pop. She then dedicated the song to the ‘egomaniac,’ Donald Trump. It was a much heavier song, with an electric guitar even making an appearance, a far cry from her indie ‘New York’ days.
Latest singles ‘Lullaby’ and ‘’Til I’m Done’ followed, with Paloma describing her involvement with the song with Sigala as a relief. It’s a song about nothing, which she welcomes with open arms as she spends too long thinking of ways to put out songs that won’t offend people, “which, of course, is never my intention. I come in peace.”
Second Sigala single ‘Changing’ followed, before her encore of ‘Still Around’ and ‘Only Love Can Hurt Like This,’ the latter of which had rain features on the big screens to re-enact her 2015 Brit Award performance, the year she won Best British Female. Finally, she ended the night with devoting the song she always finishes on ‘Love Me As I Am,’ to her boyfriend as she reveals to the audience of how hard it is keeping up a relationship, especially when a baby is involved. “I love to hate him,” she laughed with the crowd.