Paloma Faith is all about the spectacle.
The glam London pop star is up for two BRIT Awards next month and she discussed this at length, amid attempts at local patois ("Ach aye, Glasgee") and global sermons ("We celebrate the rain 'cause some countries don't have any"). As with her on-stage chat, Faith's high-gloss art is curiously vacant.
The BRIT school alumnus can fairly belt out the tunes – mostly from her current album, Fall To Grace, although she also unleashed a nicely pitched cover of INXS' Never Tear Us Apart – but it was largely all size over substance. Faith's capacious larynx was set to the max for a cocktail set of showboat ballads redolent of Elaine Paige, Broadway and Elkie Brooks (Let Your Love Walk In, When You're Gone, 30 Minute Love Affair), with universal lyrics so generic and innocuous as to mean virtually nothing at all ("Nothing in life is easy", "He took my breath away").
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And so it was that Faith's hollering pop dazzle was eclipsed by a stripped-back support turn from soul-folk troubadour Josephine.
Equipped with an acoustic guitar, and backed by a subtle electric guitarist, the Manchester singer-songwriter performed several highlights from her current album, Portrait, including the brooding, soulful reflection of The Last Minute ("I look for science, but I find art"), and the euphoric gospel-rock of Original Love, which is sure to invite Florence and the Machine comparisons, although Josephine's organic palette is more folk-inspired. Best of all was the iridescent drive-pop of What A Day, in which she sings: "Are you seeing right through me?" With songs as multi-faceted and versatile as Josephine's, there is little chance of that. All eyes should be on her.