One must surely wonder whether Ute Lemper feels angry towards Germany, considering the amount of times she criticised her native country. I’m sure, however, that any German audience members will have immediately forgiven her when she started singing. And what a truly wonderful voice this woman has, her strong contralto resounding off the walls of the Royal Festival Hall.
Her strong performance was slightly spoilt, though, by the amateurish set-up of the concert. The band, however individually talented they might have been, sometimes either got out of time, or got completely lost, and the lighting crew appeared not to have a clue as to what they were doing, lighting up unimportant bits of the stage, and searching the stage with the spotlight until they found her.
That said, however, Ute saved the day, singing songs from her latest album, Punishing Kiss (including songs by The Divine Comedy, Elvis Costello, Scott Walker, Tom Waits and others), as well as some of her older French and German repertoire. Most of the songs were done in new arrangements, and so sounded slightly different than they do on the recording, but renditions of Nick Cave‘s Little Water Song and I Am A Vamp were stand-out performances.
Three members of the The Divine Comedy were in attendance, yet not on the stage, composer Joby Talbot looking on with wife and artist Claire Burbridge.
This was a mostly great gig, and Ute must be particularly congratulated for doing her best to keep the band playing together.