Gig review: Laura Mvula, Glasgow

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FROM the moment Laura Mvula – strikingly pretty with her close-cropped hair, long eyelashes and beaming smile – sat down at a bright red electric piano, you got the feeling an hour in her company was going to be fun, and so it proved.

Laura Mvula - Oran Mor, Glasgow

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Mvula was backed by the kind of super-talented six-piece band you’d expect a graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire to be surrounded by, on everything from harp to violin, cello and upright bass. Each member was selected for vocal prowess, too, such an important role do multi-part harmonies play on Mvula’s excellent debut album Sing To The Moon.

Her shimmering opener Like The Morning Dew drew a line between gospel, retro-soul and Smile-era Beach Boys.“You might just be the nicest audience I’ve played for,” the former secondary school teacher cheerfully responded to the song’s rapt reception. The reverence in which this crowd held the singer-composer was as evident from the shouty enthusiasm with which they participated in the call-and-response vocal of Is There Anybody Out There? as it was the pin-drop silence which descended during the delicate, soul-baring Father, Father.

Green Garden, with its joyful massed handclaps, proved the set’s most celebratory moment. Mvula plainly needs a few more songs like that – she ought to have been pouring on up-tempo material towards the end, rather than finishing 15 minutes sooner than her stage time allowed. But she was cheered back nevertheless, for a hushed cover of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, which she happily reported was her first ever encore. With more strong and varied material under her belt, it’ll be far from her last.

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