tue 09/08/2022

Love Supreme, Roundhouse review - Laura Mvula's defiant confidence tops the bill | reviews, news & interviews

Love Supreme, Roundhouse review - Laura Mvula's defiant confidence tops the bill

Love Supreme, Roundhouse review - Laura Mvula's defiant confidence tops the bill

An impressively broad and mostly enjoyable mix of music

Vocal craft: Laura Mvula at the RoundhouseLove Supreme Festival

There is increasing urgency, commitment and assuredness about the way Laura Mvula performs her music. The context for her performance here was Love Supreme's day at the Roundhouse. As the event's main headliner and the stand-out performer, she really delivered the goods on Saturday night.

Mvula explained that she has not been gigging much since she stopped touring her second album The Dreaming Room a couple of years ago, but rather wanted to work on new material. However, the real interest in this performance stemmed from what has happened to her performing manner. If there was once a certain diffidence, those are attributes which can be summoned up these days as memories, as roles to be remembered and played out. Above all, there was one aspect of Mvula's vocal craft which came increasingly to the fore in this performance and is probably a product of her background in gospel choirs. And that was the way she set her voice rhythmically and harmonically, with utter confidence and defiance against what the band offered, treating them effectively as a backdrop. Mvula has a strong band, in which particularly notable was the supportive and subtle presence of keyboard player Oli Rockberger.   

This was just the second outing of a London mini-version or taster/preview of the Love Supreme Festival. Whereas the festival itself is held annually in the grounds of Glynde Place in East Sussex in July, attracting crowds of 40,000, this version puts the principal acts on in the atmospheric Roundhouse, surrounded by Victorian iron arches, with a capacity of around 3,000. The day follows the same ethos as the festival, and presents a wide range of artists with some connection to jazz, delivering a combination of the well-known and the up-and-coming. In addition to the main space there are two much smaller rooms, each of which can squeeze in just a couple of hundred souls; as the day progressed, rapidly becoming inaccessible. One stage was programmed by Jez Nelson's Jazz in the Round and the other by Worldwide FM presenter and DJ Tina Edwards.Judi Jackson at the Roundhouse by Carl Russ-MohlOf the other acts on the main stage, I particularly enjoyed Pete Wareham's band Melt Yourself Down. Yes, making blue boiler suits and pogo-ing de rigueur is certainly a strategy open to question, but this band brings its own joyous, hugely energetic madness to whatever it does, and that is such a convincing amalgam of punk, Afrobeat and free improv, it can be enjoyed or danced to on its own terms. And when you remember that Wareham's previous partnerships for his two-sax duelling have included both Mark Lockheart and Shabaka Hutchings, then the point is made: Melt Yourself Down is anything but a five-minute wonder.  

A different kind of infectious enthusiasm came from the singer Judi Jackson (pictured above by Carl Russ-Mohl). She settles back into mesmerisingly slow and hypnotic grooves and has a strong band led by Jamie Safir at the keyboard and a first-time appearance in the band from young guitarist Jack Kendrew; his powerfully wailing solo was a highlight. It is not a simple task to capture the imagination and affection of punters who have all just emerged up from the Northern line at 5 pm, and to set an evening in a big venue in motion. She managed it very well.

The high-point of keyboard player Kamaal Williams's set was a powerful trumpet feature from Canadian-born Jay Phelps. Williams's blurb tends to emphasise the importance of rhythmic and percussive playing for him, having started off as a drummer, but each time he relapsed into the kind of acid house vibe much in vogue through Gilles Peterson, all I noticed was that time seemed to pass very slowly. 

On the two smaller stages, two bands stood out. Liran Donin’s 1000 Boats are a very strong unit. Israeli-born Donin brings African influences into his music and the grounding which he and superb drummer Ben Brown provide acts as a reliable base over which the two saxophones can bounce off from and go wherever they want. Another impressive act was Alina Bzhezhiska, the Ukrainian-born harpist. Here she led a new trio with bassist Daisy George and drummer Rod Youngs, whose whole manner suggests total commitment. I was also hugely impressed by the third member of the trio Daisy George. Without the presence of another instrument capable of sustaining, she took on the role of playing both long melodic lines and catchy bass riffs with natural assurance. She is less than a year out of college and certainly a name to watch out for.

This was a day to be reminded of quite how many convincing styles of music are thriving, and also to have witnessed what certainly feels like an important next step in Laura Mvula's career. 


As the event's main headliner and the stand-out performer Laura Mvula really delivered the goods


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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