And on the seventh day, the time for Laura Mvula’s concert had finally come. The audience in the Alexela Kontserdimaja auditorium was looking forward to, with great anticipation, what was probably the most awaited event of the 2018 JazzKaar Festival.
The British singer and songwriter walked on stage in a tight colorful tracksuit – pajamas, as she actually described them – embracing her white keyboard Nina, named after the great female singer Nina Simone and preceded by the rest of the band, bassist, keyboardist and drummer, who had already taken their places.
Perhaps the audience imagined Laura slightly different, since the shaved head displayed in all the posters scattered over the city had been replaced by a woman with long, carefully tied hair. Nevertheless, the somehow dissimilar and small Mvula demonstrated that appearance and size do not count when you are endowed with strong presence and a powerful voice.
After a sort of solemn start (Window Seat) which morphed into the single Overcome, from her second album The Dreaming Room, the vibes went higher with Let Me Fall. Although these songs were different in tempo and in the atmosphere they created, they shared the same characteristic: Laura Mvula is capable of taking songs, together with her audience, up to the skies through sudden crescendos that explain her well-deserved fame.
As we are at a jazz Festival, improvisation is always welcome, so when her white keyboard Nina seemed to have broken down, Laura swiftly switched to her keyboardist’s instrument and after taking off her shoes, sang Father Father, an intimate invocation of love that temporarily transformed the hall into a sacred temple.
However, the ever-smiley Laura had been invoking not just love, but throughout the whole concert, more participation from the public, since performers like her need this kind of feedback to charge up and return such energy through their music.
The initially quiet and respectful audience showed progressively more appreciation and eventually reacted to her stimuli clapping hands, even dancing when the last tunes drifted to a more disco/club style (Green Garden, Phenomenal Woman), or laughing at her funny antics when she improvised a tribute to Nina Simone (Be My Husband) accompanied by the drummer only.
Once the last notes of the encore played out, while the people were slowly finding their way out of the auditorium, a mix of sadness at the show’s conclusion and pleasure at having witnessed the performance of such a talented performer, permeated the walls of the concert hall. We can only hope to see Laura Mvula soon again in Estonia. She would definitely be welcome.
Alexela Kontserdimaja, Thursday, April 26, 7pm
Laura Mvula: vocals, keyboard
Oli Rockberger: keyboards
Karl Rasheed Abel: bass
Troy Miller: drums
Check out photos from the concert here
Let me fall
Flying without you
Sing to the moon
Kiss my feat
Green garden – See line woman
Be my husband
Make me lovely