Review: Paloma Faith/ Last Days of Decadence

Review: Paloma Faith/Quentin Collins/Brandon Allen
(Last Days of Decadence, Friday 1st October. Review by Fran Hardcastle, Photo credit: Prema Ronningen)


Venturing into Shoreditch in the pouring rain late on a Friday night turned out to be a worthy decision.

Arriving just in time to catch the end of the house band’s first set at the opulent Last Days of Decadence, I was immediately floored by the driving beast of a drummer that was Pedro Segundo, standing in for Enzo Zirilli. Quentin Collins (trumpet) and Brandon Allen (tenor sax) with Ross Stanley (organ) make up the rest of a quartet whom from first impressions might be likened to a heavier Nicola Conte set-up, particularly in the Collins original, ‘No Way Jose’, written for an errant South American cousin. The bebop stylings over a compelling latin groove were a perfect vehicle for Brandon Allen’s powerful sound.

The basement room is a standing one, always a favourite with me at gigs, despite the inevitable aching dancing feet. It’s a compact space, but there was still a comfortable amount of oxygen for the painfully fashionable punters.

Paloma Faith, introduced as a ‘local girl made good’ by friend Collins, started her set by announcing “this is me doing something low pressure – so if I make a mistake – f*** it”. She may have at certain points been reaching out of her comfort zone, but if she did feel uncomfortable, she hid it with style.

The first chart ‘Lets Get Lost’ showed a singer that could give Little Voice a run for her money, her voice soaked in inflections of Billie, bits of Dinah and an almost Eartha Kitt drawl. Quentin Collin’s solo showed a lovely smooth sound. The doffed cap to Billie Holiday was particularly noticeable in a great arrangement of Good Morning Heartache, set up with a tasty groove by Ross Stanley on organ. Stanley really shone on his long introduction to Black Coffee, worthy of a Delta gospel church.

Faith’s signature tune ‘At Last’ brought a taste of her burlesque background, stood on top a monitor, all sensual arm movements and expressive features. It also revealed a glimpse of her natural voice, a rich pure delight. But Faith truly excelled in the funkier songs of the set, such as the last song of the night, a sparkling, cheeky rendition of Candi Staton’s I’d Rather Be An Old Man.

On thanking her band, Faith described them as ‘some of the best musicians in London’. From the taster I got, she could be right.

Paloma Faith will be performing with a host of stars at the Concert for Care on October 18th.

And with Guy Barker’s Orchestra at the Barbican Centre on 10 December.

The Late Set is every Friday night at Last Days of Decadence and continues next Friday with a guest set from Ray Gelato.

Categories: miscellaneous

15 replies »

  1. Surely Miss Faith has enough fame and reviews to her name without taking up valuable room on this 1st rate Jazz Blog?

  2. Thank you for writing in, anonymous, and for a really nice compliment.

    But surely the space here is unlimited.

    And Fran's review does also bring to the fore the contributions of Messrs Allen, Collins, Stanley and Segundo. What's not to like about that/ them?!

    Tell us about your enthusiasms and I'm sure we can accommodate them!

    And take a look at the Concert for CARE too, again not strictly jazz….

  3. I take your point about the space on this and indeed all blogs being infinite. But according to the Jazz in London October edition on the 1st October the following gigs were also going on across London.…

    *Gilad Atzmon 10 years of Orient House at Ronnies

    *Martin Speake Group at The Crypt Camberwell.
    (The plight of this amazing venue has been mentioned on this blog before)

    *Finn Peters Trio at the South Bank Front Room (Free)

    *Heidi Vogel at The Forge (an incredible jazz singer)

    *Bobby Lamb and the London Neophonic Orchestra at Blackheath Halls.

    Why was a not very good pop singer sitting in with a killing jazz band for 1 set, the top priority for review when these other gigs were going on? Is it because she is famous by any chance? I recon it’s possible to get people into jazz with pushing “celebrities” in front of a “vintage style” microphone.

    I know that Quentin, Brandon, Ross and Pedro can play their asses off (by the way Miss. Hardcastle missed most of the bands first set as it clearly states..why?) and it’s not easy to play music for a living. So I understand that if someone like Miss Faith wants to do a set with the band then it’s easy to say yes, especially if you are friends. If it was my band I might do the same (although very unlikely). Please understand that I’m not putting them down in any way. They are some of the best musicians in London as she rightly said.

    Lovely players.

    But this quote from the above review…

    “This is me doing something low pressure – so if I make a mistake – f*** it”

    Is this really the attitude to jazz that this blog wants to promote? A casual, unprofessional, lazy and frankly insulting approach to the art of playing music?

    I know it’s not.

    Victor Meldrew

  4. Victor, this kind of contribution is really welcome. You clearly love the music and know the scene well.

    And thank you for encouraging us to raise standards. Much appreciated, and keep'em coming.

    We want above all to look forwards, with previews, so please flag up something you think we should be covering in advance, and we'll do what we can.

  5. Thank you anonymous! I received a text last night telling me that there were at least three reviewers covering Mujician. Which is quite right.

    I ask you, should we all cover the same things?!

    And at the risk of being boring , I'll repeat myself…

    We want above all to look forwards, with previews, so please flag up something you think we should be covering in advance, and we'll do what we can.

  6. Frankly Mr Anonymous or Victor Meldrew (not so courageous of his convictions to use his or her name!) you are taking the exact attitude that stops jazz being more widely enjoyed. Actually Paloma Faith is a very good singer and obviously has a great respect for jazz. Her step into something less poppy than her usual offerings will bring a younger audience to appreciate the enjoyment and perhaps jazz will not be at the mercy of moaners like you!

    I only wish I had know the gig was on because I would have liked to have been there

  7. Okay…

    Let's wait and see if she does bring a younger audience to Jazz. I'd love that to happen. Genuinely. A year from now I'd love to look back and remember how foolish I was to say she was just having a laugh singing Jazz when her standards album is in the top 20.

    Personally I think she'll continue to sing pop music that makes her famous and makes her lots of money, if she's still involved in music at all. She's not interested in bringing people to jazz.

    As for my “attitude” I was trying to say that pop singers have tried to move to jazz and frankly it's done nothing for the people involved in jazz on a day to day basis. In fact it's harmed it and pushed it further into it's pigeon hole. If you don't agree well that's fine but let's not pretend that Paloma Faith is going to save jazz by singing a standards gig in a club.

    Also I have chosen not to give my real name as once you write something on the internet it's there forever. But I can assure you I work hard to make the scene better in this country and to bring people regardless of age or anything to the music that I love.

    V. Meldrew

  8. Mr Platt… I'm not sure how you can say Paloma Faith 'obviously has a great respect for jazz' given her opening line to her set… (i quote..)

    “this is me doing something low pressure – so if I make a mistake – f*** it”

    Wow Paloma. Considering the calibre of musicians she was playing with and compositions she was covering i think that's pretty much the most DISrespectful thing she could possibly have said!

    I completely agree with Mr Meldrew/Mr Anonymous – jazz doesn't need promoting using a pop singer at minute 4 1/2 of her five-minutes-of-fame. I know many FAR more talented singers and musicians who choose to study and play the music they are passionate about – jazz – rather than sell their souls to pop for a year of stardom/artistic suicide.

    The fact of the matter is no-one of a 'younger generation' will have even known that gig was on- if Miss Faith considers it to be so 'low pressure' she can't really be bothered to try i doubt it will have been promoted much on her part.

    Furthermore, Mr Platt, to call Mr Anonymous a 'moaner' is disgraceful! He is obviously passionate about Jazz and doesn't want to see it turned into a dumbed-down version of itself. Jazz musicians should most definitely have something to say about a decidedly mediocre pop singer more famous for her 'original' (ha!) style than her voice, singing one set at a gig and getting more publicity on a jazz blog than other jazz gigs that week! (everyone is entitled to their opinion on Miss Faith's abilities – i think mine are clear?)

    I'm sorry Mr Platt but everything you've said has been completely undermined by Paloma Faith's quoted opening statement – “this is me doing something low pressure – so if I make a mistake – f*** it”
    I wouldn't be too worried about defending her if i were you. There are many amazing true jazz singers in london at the moment and i'd highly recommend checking their gigs out! (i'm sure you can find them on here)

    Keep up the good work Mr Meldrew! Respect.

    Anonymous Lady

  9. WOW, Who said jazz was elitist?

    Get over it douche bags.

    She sings jazz, and pop??!?! That's not allowed. Surely NOT!!

    NO jazz musician I've ever met can write a pop song to save their life. Ironic, seeing as all the songs that set up the formula for EVERY jazz song in history is based on the 'standard' pop music of it's day.

    These comments reek of jealousy and/or pretension. Truth is, Paloma Faith's roots were singing Jazz Standards, then she made the step into Pop music, probably to make some money.

    I'd like to see ANY london jazz musician try to do the same. Just because something is frowned upon, doesn't mean it's EASILY done.

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