Laura Mvula | The Orpheum Theatre | 10/31/13

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Earlier this year, I hit a little bit of a rough patch. It was one of those times when life just didn’t seem to go my way. My loving dog of 13 years, Samson, passed away while I was out of state, I was having some personal issues I was dealing with, and the icing on the proverbial cake was that a show I had planned on attending months in advance was rescheduled such that I couldn’t attend.

The show that I missed was Laura Mvula at the Bootleg Theater in April. If you’ve been following my blog this year, you probably saw my first post about her music back in January. I followed that post up with additional posts in February and March because I was so excited by her sophisticated sound. As fate would have it, Laura Mvula ended up scheduling another show in Los Angeles, which was a breathtaking performance at the El Rey Theatre in September. It appeared as if the music gods were throwing me a bone.

I had purchased tickets for Iron & Wine back in June, and at that time there was no opening act listed. It was almost an afterthought, since I had been wanting to see Iron & Wine live for years. About a week or two before the Halloween Eve concert, Laura Mvula posted on Facebook that she would be opening for Iron & Wine on a series of west coast dates. Needless to say, I was enthralled. At this point, I thought the music gods were serving me a t-bone.

I barely got there in time for the first song of her set. Watching her perform in the beautiful and historic Orpheum Theatre was truly a musical blessing. The fashionably late arriving Los Angeles crowd steadily filed in to their seats during her set, and I could only think to myself that they were fools to miss out on her glorious music. Their loss.

She bantered with the crowd and mentioned that her favorite song was “Let Me Fall” (which, ironically, wasn’t on her debut album)  and her second favorite song was “Flying Without You”. She performed a subdued version of “She” which sent shivers down my spine. After she sang the title track off her debut album, “Sing To The Moon”, and having heard that she had just recently lost out on the prestigious Mercury Prize, I yelled out from my seat, “You deserved the Mercury!”  She giggled and said, “That’s funny.” Really though … she should have won that award.

Though her set was obviously shorter than her concert at the El Rey, it was still filled with the deep musicality and unabashed emotion that makes her music so appealing to me. I eagerly anticipate her sophomore album, and the next time she’s back in the United States to perform for her fans.

Setlist (written down by me during her performance):

  1. “Like the Morning Dew”
  2. “Let Me Fall”
  3. “Flying Without You”
  4. “She”
  5. “Sing to the Moon”
  6. “Father father”
  7. “Green Garden”
  8. “That’s Alright”

Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. To see the amazing pictures I took of her at the El Rey, please click here to see that blog entry (trust me, some of the pictures taken were amazing).

Laura Mvula | El Rey Theatre | 9/17/13

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I remember the day I first heard Laura Mvula sing (January 18th, 2013) because I was so amazed by what I heard that I immediately posted a blog entry about it. I kept an eye (and ear) on her music and would post additional blog entries about some of her other songs (“That’s Alright” and “Jump Right Out”) because I was enthralled with her sound and excited about her debut album “Sing To The Moon”.

Laura Mvula’s music cannot be easily classified, as it is a sound that frankly defies stylistic categorization. As allmusic.com proffers, Laura’s music is “rooted in decades-old forms of gospel, jazz, R&B, and, most deeply, orchestral pop . Almost all of the material is as serious and as refined as it is majestic, with vocal showcases and hushed-belted-hushed-belted dynamics galore.” I agree with the assessment, and would even boil it down simply as classy and sophisticated, orchestral neo-soul music. Some seriously good, grown folk sounds for those who appreciate musicality and message in their music.

I was ecstatic when I found out that Laura was scheduled to perform April 16, 2013 at the Bootleg Theater, and I immediately snapped up tickets. As fate would have it, however, I was asked to speak at my Alma Mater that same week, and to my dismay, I had to give my tickets up. As a small consolation, I received my copy of Laura’s debut on vinyl (a UK export that has an amazing recording of Stevie Wonder’s “Something Out of The Blue”) and for the next few months listened to it whenever I needed to set my mind and soul at ease.

I received a notice (thank you social media!) that Laura was to do another round of touring in the United States with a stop in Los Angeles September 17th, and I agains purchased tickets to her show. This time, though, I made sure I had no conflicting appointments.

Laura’s show was simply amazing. Me and my friends were able to get up to the very front of the venue for the performance, and as fate would have it, Laura’s keyboard was basically in front of us, and thus we were privileged to have Laura performing no more than 5 yards from us for a majority of the show. I could see her every breath and read the emotions on her face with every lyric. It was a beautiful experience. A moving experience. During the most tender part of the concert, when Laura sang “Diamonds” and “Father, Father” back to back, you could feel the audience release a collective sigh following the last note of “Father, Father”. I did not have to look around to know that there were some  in the audience tearing up because … truth be told … I was busy dabbing the corners of my eye as well.

My anticipation for new music from her is at an all time high. My commitment to see her perform live again has been verified. An amazing concert by an amazing artist. Her performance at the El Rey has a spot in my top 10 concert performances of the year. Nuff’ said.

Setlist:

  1. Like The Morning Dew
  2. Let Me Fall (not in the album)
  3. Flying Without You
  4. She
  5. Is There Anybody Out There?/ One Love (Bob Marley& The Wailers cover)
  6. Sing to the Moon
  7. Diamonds
  8. Father, Father
  9. Green Garden
  10. That’s Alright
  11. Make Me Lovely (Encore)
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13
Laura Mvula at the El Rey Theatre 9/17/13

Laura Mvula | “That’s Alright” (Video and Lyrics)

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2013 may very well be a GREAT year for new female vocalists.  I’ve already been smitten by Nai Palm, the lead singer of Hiatus Kaiyote … and now Laura Mvula is looking to squeeze her way into my heart as well.

My interest in Laura Mvula had already been stirring and I’ve posted short blog entries about her songs “Jump Right Out” and “She”, but she just release a new video for her latest single “That’s Alright” and it’s blowing me away. It heavy on rhythms and chants and really comes out punching.  Definitely contrasting to her more delicate fair that I’ve grown accustomed to.  With her rich alto tone, and jazz/soul/gospel sensibilities, she sings out rebelling against an unknown antagonist, proclaiming her autonomy and self worth and chastising him/her with a chorus of “Who made you the center of the universe”.

Her first major label album, “Sing to the Moon”, was released March 4, 2013 abroad, but the CD, LP and digital downloads don’t seem to be available yet in the U.S.  RCA needs to get on the stat. And if it’s never going to be released in the states, I may very well have to spend the extra cash to purchase imports…

For your listening pleasure, Laura Mvula’s “That’s Alright”:

(Verse)
I will never be what you want and that’s alright,
Cause my skin ain’t light and my body ain’t tight.
And that’s alright.
But if I might, I must stand and fight.

I will never be what you want and that’s alright,
I play my own damn tune, I shine like the moon.
And very soon, I’ll soon fly over you.
And what you gonna do when I fly over you?

(Chorus)
Tell me who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?

(Verse)
And every morning when I wake up I pray for you
And then I pray for me that soon you’ll see
How love can be, our love will set you free.
And what it’s gonna be, I see the beauty in your eyes.

(Chorus)
Tell me who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?

(Verse)
I will never be what you want and that’s alright,
Cause my skin ain’t light and my body ain’t tight.
I will never be what you want and that’s alright,
Cause my skin ain’t light and that’s alright.

(Chorus)
Tell me who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?
Who made you the center of the universe?