Lady Blackbird at Koko
Lady Blackbird is the star you hope doesn’t go supernova so that you can keep her a secret. Comparisons to Amy Winehouse are inevitable – there is the same emotional intensity, the same vocal depth – but Blackbird is perhaps a mellower, more soulful artist, with influences from Gladys Knight, Tina Turner and Billie Holiday. Perhaps a better comparison would be the blackbird itself, with its hauntingly musical song. Her voice is that rare thing: unmistakeable. Wearing a cloak and architectural head-dress, she could be a superhero.
Before she was Lady Blackbird, LA-based Marley Munroe sang R&B and alt-rock; these influences are still there, but with her debut, Black Acid Soul, you feel that she has arrived with burning intensity. She doesn’t pull punches, either. The opening, a slow acapella introduction, draws everyone in immediately: you can feel it, between her pauses there is silence. Under the hazy, dreamy purple lighting, she is captivating. Starting the set with a Beatles cover, Come Together, she makes it her own: a rocky, sassy take on a song that it’s now hard to believe was ever sung by a Liverpudlian quartet.
At times she moves back to be with the musicians, listening to them as if she herself is at a concert, and not the main event. At others, her musicians are as captivated as we are.
These songs are lived in. Fix It is a deeply-felt introspective number, accompanied by jazzy bass and piano. Tracks often begin ambiguously – we don’t always get a sense of where they’re going. Beware the Stranger starts ominously, with its percussive off-beat drum and piano interruptions, before transforming to a slinky, funky warning: “I said she’s wanted / Dead or alive / Distinguishing features / She got cold and shifty, shifty, shifty eyes.”
Blackbird ends with the best: the powerful Woman, with its slow, heavy beats (“I’ll do whatever she says / Ever since the dawn of man / Helpless in the hands of a woman”). In terms of a performance such as this, we desperately hope the words of the last song, “It’ll never happen again”, are untrue.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Lady Blackbird’s website here.
Watch the video for the single here: