Paloma shows Faith in Belfast with a bold, brassy set to remember
A lot has happened in the two-and-a-half years since Paloma Faith last bestrode a Belfast stage.
The soulful singer’s third album, 2014’s A Perfect Contradiction, became her best selling yet, while her single Only Love Can Hurt Like This went top-five around the world.
She also managed a collaboration with drum and bass duo Sigma on the song Changing, which saw her reach the top of the British charts for the first time.
With the 34-year-old finally winning a Brit Award in February for best female solo artist after three unsuccessful nominations, there couldn’t be a better time to see her back in Northern Ireland.
If her recent appointment as a coach on the upcoming fifth series of The Voice suggests a change of gears is afoot, last night’s show was all systems go.
Taking the stage half-an-hour late, Faith made up for it with a consummate evening in Custom House Square.
Take Me was a dynamic opener, enlivened by Faith indulging in some synchronised moves with her brass section. It was just the right side of cheesy.
Of course, the 1960s-inspired diva’s retro look (last night it was a billowing black and gold frock) is an integral part of her appeal, but she’d be nowhere without her magnificent voice.
She really got to show it off on a cover of The Sisters Love’s The Bigger You Love (The Harder You Fall), which saw her trade lines with her two excellent backing vocalists. Indeed, every member of Faith’s 10-piece band was on fire.
The pixie-like performer continued to belt out the hits people wanted to hear, but her claim to have “swam for seven days” to get to Belfast wasn’t the only curveball in last night’s gig.
As well as archly brushing off fans’ unintelligible requests and encouraging everyone to say “something nice” to the person next to them, her offbeat musical choices marched her quirky banter. A cover of Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix was as unexpected as it was glorious, Faith screeching like the lovechild of Ian Gillan and Janis Joplin.
Her announcement that the track had inspired the recording sessions for her fourth album bodes well. It was soon back to the crowd favourites, and the warm and charming Faith had no trouble keeping everybody on side.
“I’ve heard Ireland knows how to have good craic,” she grinned before launching into Impossible Heart.
The tireless star kept the audience’s energy levels up through a thunderous Ready For The Good Life, right up to a big, bold finish on Picking Up The Pieces.
The sold-out throng’s faith had been rewarded.