Lianne La Havas Live at Brighton

Lianne3Similarly Britain-born and hollow body guitar loving Jamie N Commons opened for the lovely Lianne La Havas at the Sinclair on Saturday April 6th. Jamie and his 4-piece band have been beloved for their their raspy, cowboy-swing vibe for a while now, and have received even more popularity recently for their song ‘Lead Me Home’s feature on the hit television show, The Walking Dead. Jamie N Commons played most of their 2013 EP Rumble and Sway, setting a spitfire mood for the rest of the show as the crowd bounced and swayed to every tune.

Not long after Jamie N Commons finished their set, twenty-three year old Lianne La Havas took stage in a black screen printed shirt-dress with colorful characters and the phrase “Oh no!” scattered all across it. The London born musician truly embodied her music’s impossibly charismatic feel with her goofy crowd interactions.

She opened with “No Room For Doubt” off of her 2012 debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, which iTunes rated best of the year. Although she played the song without the album version’s partner Willie Mason, she was joined by the crowd on every lyric. To which she responded, “What a crowd,” as the song finished.

Sweet as ever, La Havas artfully entertained very many comments from the audience throughout her performance. Although most were simple declarations of love or marriage proposals, she accepted a love note tossed on stage as well.

To introduce her bestselling single, La Havas said, “Let me ask you something, is your love big enough?” Her naturally powerful vocals and intoxicating bass line flawlessly began to characterize the song, but this time La Havas asked he asked the audience to implement something she called The Human Percussion. This maneuver involved a combination of wonderfully received synchronized foot stomping and clapping that gave the song a larger-than-life feel. After the song, she just laughed into the enormous applause and said, “Oh I’m so glad that worked.”

Similarly, La Havas recreated the studio-complex ‘Forget’ with a bit of improvised audience interaction. She coaxed the crowd into singing the back vocals, “forget, forget,” and heckled them until they were screeching and angry enough for her liking. The result was enthralling enough to make the audience literally beg for back as she exited the stage at the song’s end.

Thankfully, La Havas returned to the stage to play a four song encore, finishing with a gorgeous cover of Jill Scott’s ‘He Loves Me’ and ‘Age,’ an admittedly autobiographical fan favorite. Right before ‘Age’, La Havas admitted to her audience that “this is the actual end now,” quelling their sad murmur by saying, “because I haven’t made a new album yet!” It was both a concert and a conversation that nobody wanted to end.

When La Havas beautifully belted her rollicking singles that the whole audience knew word by word – that was one thing. But when she captivated the entirety of the Sinclair with songs of a more intimate nature like ‘Everything Everything’ and ‘Gone’ – that became something entirely different (and truly shattering). She was able to give her heartbreak a life of its own, and open up to let the audience feel what she was feeling.

She said over and over that she “didn’t know what to say” and that she “didn’t have words”, but her performance said it all. As La Havas moved effortlessly between the ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ swingers and the ‘Lost & Found’ heartbreakers, she demonstrated not only her strength as an artist – but as a person.

By Maggie Ambrose

If you liked this, check out:
Frightened Rabbit Live at HOB
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

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