Live Music + Gig Reviews

Morcheeba @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

27 May 2005



Conditions are good for Morcheeba‘s return to their favourite venue, the first of an ambitious London two-parter. Take a warm, sultry evening, add an audience basking in the glow of a long weekend, not to mention a warm-up stint in the sun outside on the green, and finish with the intrigue of a new singer. All this during the Big Brother launch night!

Unfortunately the band’s very own big brother lurks in the wings. Or rather, he stands on a raised platform in the centre of the stage. Paul Godfrey’s performing contributions may be relatively minimal as a turntablist and occasional backing singer, but he’s determined to let us(and vocalist Daisy Martey) know who’s in charge.

This is at best unfortunate. From his lord of the manor position Godfrey has her within his sight at all times, and banter with the crowd begins, and ends, from his perch. Unlucky, then, for someone near the front who “looks a bit pissed off”, and unlucky for the whole crowd as Paul yells, “I wanna hear you scream!” two songs in. Screaming at a Morcheeba gig?! They respond surprisingly well to this brief nod to stadium rock, then settle down for an evening of blissed-out vibes and more strident tracks from the new album.

The Empire lends itself perfectly to Morcheeba’s acoustic, and for diehard fans the ideal opportunity to appraise Daisy’s performance in comparison to the velvet tones of previous vocalist Skye Edwards. There’s no Trigger Hippie or Tape Loop, but Martey acquits herself well, staying true to the dreamy spirit of The Sea, whilst bringing a more piercing tone to the newer material – at times a bit too overcooked.

Nerves play a part early on, as she moves somewhat gracelessly around the stage during Wonders Never Cease, but her whole demeanour becomes more relaxed as the gig progresses, as she begins to add a pleasing spikiness to EverybodyLoves A Loser.

By the middle of the set much of the audience, who seem to be with their other halves, have reached a state of holiday bliss, eyes shut as they drink in a particularly good Part Of The Process. Predictably it’s these moments of Big Calm that get the best reception, but the new stuff passes off well and gives Daisy more of a chance to show off her big throated voice.

“How do you think she’s doing?” asks her boss. The warm cheers of the audience are in the affirmative. Let’s hope come the next tour she’s given the chance to fend for herself more in a gig environment. Only then can the band move completely into their next phase.

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More on Morcheeba
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Morcheeba @ Roundhouse, London
Morcheeba – Blood Like Lemonade
Morcheeba – Dive Deep
Morcheeba: “Big Calm pioneered a sound that people really enjoy, a different take on trip hop” – Interview