Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Mica Paris; Hippodrome, London 1/12/12

Mica Paris: Hippodrome, London 1/12/12 @bluesandsoul.com
Mica Paris: Hippodrome, London 1/12/12 @bluesandsoul.com Mica Paris: Hippodrome, London 1/12/12 @bluesandsoul.com Mica Paris: Hippodrome, London 1/12/12 @bluesandsoul.com Mica Paris and Michael Barrymore: Hippodrome, London 1/12/12 @bluesandsoul.com

Soul sensation Mica Paris performed at this beautifully refurbished theatre room in the Hippodrome, Leicester Square and although feeling below par, due to a bout of flu, this plucky South London diva with the fever still managed to weave her magic and deliver a varied and hugely enjoyable set.

Ms Paris was in no mood to take prisoners either, pretty much from the off she was egging the audience to join in cat and mouse style, with her catchy/memorable songs. If fame hadn't claimed her so early on, Butlins may have got in there and nabbed her as a very keen redcoat!

Paris' brand of soul, funk, gospel and jazz is a heady cocktail indeed, goading her band to take it up another gear as well as cajoling the audience brazenly, which she christened collectively as her backing vocalists! (I think I might put that on my CV!) Her between-song banter showed just what a great communicator she is too, talking about her 25 years in the music business - good and bad, while dispensing a lot of wisdom 'agony aunt style' to the woman in audience who were eager to lap up her advice!

All this is secondary though because this huge personality has a huge voice capable of many wonderful nuances - she can run rings round most singers effortlessly, she just gets better and better. She's not been resting on her laurels either, with an 8th studio album in the bag, produced by Rod Templeton - the future looks rather rosy for this determined diva. It would have been fitting if she'd previewed a few of her new songs from said album, after all that's what is going to get her back in the limelight, where she belongs, but her varied eclectic set proved to be a winner anyway...

The set was well measured with classic tracks from her earlier repertoire, "Never Felt Like This Before" was the opener and she didn't let the crowd settle in. With her demands of audience participation taking hold, "Where Is The Love," that old Donny & Roberta classic showed her absence has not affected her voice what so ever. The tone/control/quality of her singing and the fact that she 'never' overdoes it, is all there in abundance. Mica can really put over power ballads too, "Born Again" sounded magnificent! A catalytic uplifting track which took her out of the doldrums she suffered in the nineties and put her right back on track.

Great to hear her jazzy side too, a clever re-harmonised "Summertime" worked a treat - a beautifully poignant version of "At Last" dedicated to all the fallen artists recently departed (Whitney, Etta, Michael, etc...) stopped all in their tracks. And whilst we are on the subject of fallen artists, a few eyebrows were raised when Mica invited Michael Barrymore on stage! This just demonstrated Mica's big heart, plus it sent out the message loud and clear, 'this woman sticks with her friends through think AND thin!'

MD/pianist Chris Jerome led from the helm, admirably guiding his stalwart musos through chartered/unchartered waters (especially endings!) Bassist Earl Lewis drove home the grooves with the ever propulsive Rod Youngs on drums, which just left the guitarist Kenny Barry - a smooth fluid player whose laid back style complemented the sound most of the time, but in my view he could have let himself off the leash a bit more.

Other guests included soul singer Paul Johnson, who some may remember from "Words Into Action," a duet he did with Mica on her LP "So Good" - and yes folks and he's still got that falsetto magic - as they traded licks over Al Green's seminal evergreen "Let's Stay Together."

Daughter Monet got up too and showed us her wares admirably, as did big sis who inspired her in the first place, yes it was a family affair and the audience lapped it up - and no wonder, as Paris has the power of a one woman church! She knows how to own the stage, a wonderful lesson for the many singers in the audience. "One Temptation" sounded as good as the record, with keyboard player Jerome handling keys and horn sounds at the same time. So with the audience satiated good and proper it was time for Mica to bid us farewell, she had pulled out ALL the stops! The night was truly exhilarating and hopefully a fine benchmark of what's to come 'soul wise' at this exciting new venue. Bravo Mica!
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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