Laville at Omeara
It’s Friday night and down the road from London Bridge the crowd lurks in Omeara, awaiting soul’s arrival. The venue’s stony arched ceiling vaults the stage and North Londoner Laville appears in a white Cuban shirt, white trousers, wide-brimmed hat – one cool cat, smiling Cheshire wide.
An emerging talent in the capital’s soul scene, since signing to Acid Jazz Records (discoverers of Jamiroquai), Laville has two solo releases under his belt in 2019 alone. The artist opens tonight with Thirty One, lead single off his recent LP The Wanderer. Roughly the track’s title in, mixers grasp the band’s range and tailor sound: the singer’s voice fills the small, packed venue – it reaches into corners and bobbles groovily amongst the dust rousing into dance. Yes, even dust dances to this music. Swirling violet lights mirror the chorus’s sonic wash as the artist wraps us into a melodic reflection. “I know that this phase won’t last forever. I will always endeavour to tell the truth in ways of pleasure.” Laville’s lyrics often reveal truths like a magician: this was always here, now you can see it.
Blood and Bones portrays the band at its height, showing both cohesion and individual strengths. A catchy bassline grounds soul auxiliaries (shimmering keyboards, quick-ascent guitar flourishes) and Laville draws out notes with a handroll as though physically pulling the words from his mouth. His hand waves a low trill; the crowd swoons.
This City is another highlight – a street banger focussing on London’s changing post-vote political climate. Cleverly masking scathing lyrics under his most upbeat tempo, the singer traces soul’s roots back to “the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying” (Otis Redding) about London today.
Giants comes part-way through the night – a tight ten-song gig. It’s here the audience fully buys into Laville’s talent. Inhibition reigns through this loving breakup tune. The singer and his talented backing vocalist lock eyes at “You deserve to be happy, just not with me”. Crossing their arms, they bellow, “No!” but with smiles on their faces. It’s what tonight’s all about – a love-in, knowing your self-worth and celebrating fulfilment. From this point, it’s up and up. Before we part, he tells us to “take this [message] into reality. Spread the word”. To confirm their approval, the crowd chants, “Laville! Laville!”. And when curfew comes, the spark’s lit – our souls are afire.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Laville’s website here.
Watch the video for Thirty One here: