The Noisettes, Shepherds Bush Empire 27/10/09
With their mix and match highly varied musical style, it would normally be hard to justify why a group like The Noisettes should receive a live review in a soul based magazine. However, The Noisettes are no ordinary group....
A varied style they may have but they also have a not-so secret weapon, one which should grace the pages of any music magazine - and that is lead singer Shingai Shoniwa. The Noisettes music ranges from Indie to Disco Pop to Retro-soul but one thing never changes - Shoniwa’s voice. It exudes both charisma and a classic soul quality, pitching in somewhere between the rawness of Eartha Kitt and the modernity of Amy Winehouse. She could indeed sing thrash metal and her voice would still sound soulful.
And at the last night of their UK Autumn tour, Shingai’s voice was not only aspect that impressed. Her stage presence was larger than life. In a highly original show, she started her performance with a surprise appearance at the side of the first floor balcony at the Shepherd Bush Empire, much to the delight of the crowd, half perched on the railings, kicking off with the exuberant title track from the 'Wild Young Hearts' album. This would not be her foray of the night in amongst the audience. Shingai bounded around the stage with an energy that would put any teenager to shame. Much to my surprise, The Noisettes played for their second song their disco tinged big hit, that has formed part of many a radio-station’s playlist this year of 2009 – 'Don’t Upset the Rhythm'. This was a bold move so early in the set, this being the track that thrust them into spotlight. At the same time, however, it avoided the cliché of waiting until the end to perform their big end number as so many bands do.
Meanwhile the set carried on its genre defying way. Softer Ballads were provided by 'Sometimes' and 24 Hours (later in the show); then there was very lively Indie Pop in the form of 'Saturday Night', which saw Shoniwa bounding all the stage and performing death defying leaps barefoot off a 4 foot podium; and a cover of The Killers 'When You Were Young'. The nearest to a pure soul tracks was the up-tempo 'So Complicated' and 'Never Forget You' which had mid-60’s Motown feel.
Then just when you thought Shoniwa was winding down, she suddenly appeared again in Level 1 of the theatre where she climbed across audience members, made her way to the middle and sang the song 'Attitcus' from the front of the balcony, occasionally draping herself backwards over the railings in a gravity defying pose. Later, downstairs at ground level she would commandeer the shoulders of a member of the audience to be taken through the crowd to the sound desk, upon which she stood and sung her heart out.
The show’s climax T-Rex’s 'Children of the Revolution' inspired a tremendous sing-along that saw people of all nationalities joining, some of whom had probably never even heard of T-Rex.
Backed up by her first rate fellow band members, make no mistake this was a performance that was a joy to watch, one full of showmanship and energy from the vigourous lead singer. I defy anyway who goes to a Noisettes concert not to be entertained and as they are on tour in the UK again next spring you will have chance.
Words DARREN LEWIS