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.

Orrather, he stands on a raised platform in the centre of the stage. PaulGodfrey’s performing contributions may be relatively minimal as aturntablist 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 Godfreyhas 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 “looksa bit pissed off”, and unlucky for the whole crowd as Paul yells, “I wannahear you scream!” two songs in. Screaming at a Morcheeba gig?! They respondsurprisingly well to this brief nod to stadium rock, then settle down foran evening of blissed-out vibes and more strident tracks from the newalbum.

The Empire lends itself perfectly to Morcheeba’s acoustic, and for diehard fans the ideal opportunity to appraise Daisy’s performance incomparison 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 morepiercing tone to the newer material – at times a bit too overcooked.

Nervesplay a part early on, as she moves somewhat gracelessly around the stageduring Wonders Never Cease, but her whole demeanour becomes more relaxed asthe 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 theirother halves, have reached a state of holiday bliss, eyes shut as theydrink in a particularly good Part Of The Process. Predictably it’s thesemoments of Big Calm that get the best reception, but the new stuff passesoff well and gives Daisy more of a chance to show off her big throatedvoice.

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

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