REVIEW: Caro Emerald's audience enjoys an uplifting, sell-out show at Cambridge Corn Exchange

PUBLISHED: 10:34 22 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:00 22 October 2018

Caro Emerald at Cambridge Corn Exchange Picture: Celia Bartlett Photography

Caro Emerald at Cambridge Corn Exchange Picture: Celia Bartlett Photography

Copyright © 2018 Celia Bartlett Photography. All rights reserved.

Caro Emerald returned to Cambridge to a sell-out audience on Friday night, October 19, with many fans hoping this tour would also bring a new album. However, understanding that the arrival of a second daughter for Emerald in 2017 was more important, most were simply happy to see her return to the live stage to enjoy her uplifting music.

Caro Emerald returned to Cambridge to a sell-out audience on Friday night, October 19, with many fans hoping this tour would also bring a new album. However, understanding that the arrival of a second daughter for Emerald in 2017 was more important, most were simply happy to see her return to the live stage to enjoy her uplifting music.

In the dimmed lights, her seven piece band made their way onto stage and struck up on an intro, the polished voice of Emerald being heard on stage, before making her entrance to a big cheer.

Dressed in a colourful, multi-layered, pleated, metallic skirt and simple black t-shirt which showed off her multiple gold necklaces, the bright lipstick from many videos was notably absent.

The lack of lip colour didn’t diminish her warm voice as she swayed into Riviera Life, while quickly pressing her finger to her ear to check the in-ear monitor was up and running for the evening.

By now, the front row was moving to the rhythm and tapping their feet, the question being how long would it be before the infectiously happy songs would bring people to their feet, Cambridge audiences being noted for their dancing reserve.

She moved on song by song before she spoke to announce the first new song of the evening, bringing an instant wave of approval for Chromambo. The exuberent swing and jazz songs flowed one after another - Absolutely Me, Tangled Up and One Day with Emerald often combining one of her moves to discreetly sweep past her ear to check the ear monitor.

The more sensual Tahitian Skies and the regularly changing stylised projections on the back wall led everyone into a dreamy escape from the world outside, before a swift move into a shivery The Ghost of You.

Emerald then addressed the audience again “A new tour; new toys” which introduced a great little Cuban guitar into the mix, eventually leading into an instrumental number with a catchy jazz riff, encouraging the audience to loosen up and clap along in time, as she left the stage for a short break.

Returning to stage with the backdrop now sporting a stylised palm tree and moon, Emerald was partnered by the distictive sound of the piano accordian for I Know That He’s Mine. Again, her moves swept past her ear - had the in-ear monitor been fixed during her off stage moment?

I was becoming anxious for her. Another planned stage exit during an instrumental interludue allowed Emerald a change of outfit into vintage-style black pencil skirt, yellow patterned blouse and sneakers. Re-emerging to a powerful drum beat, jazz clarinet and Charleston stepping from her band, it turned up the tempo for the evening for You Don’t Love Me. By now the audience were clearly enjoying the polished performance from Emerald, despite her continuing issue with her in-ear monitor - I just couldn’t help but notice the distraction of her discomfort. Ever the professional, she pressed on, announcing another new song. Wake Up Romeo.

“Not sure if you feel like dancing today? I hereby invite you - please...”

As it began, a handful of ladies on the balcony braved the glances of the comfortably seated majority and began to move to the jazz-style rap, while downstairs, the whole of the floor were on their feet. By the end of the song even an older gent was bopping away in a corner of the balcony.

There was a huge whoop for this new number and the crowd were warming up for sure. Emerald was using her magic, learned over the 100 previous UK shows, to loosen up this slightly reserved British crowd.

Very quickly, the now less inhibited audience joined Emerald with a little bit of “Havana oo-na-na” as she confidently broke into a cover of the Camilla Cabello 2017 hit.

Those not already on their feet were soon up and the atmosphere moved up to another level. This was perfect timing to follow on with Back It Up, the 2009 hit which launched Emerald into stardom, and which her fans both new and established are always happy to hear her sing.

“Show us what you’ve got Cambridge!” was the call to join her in a Liquid Lunch, and had everyone with her.

“Come on Cambridge, the more you sweat, the better I sing” And sing she did with the catchy That Man which had everyone moving to the beat. As the beat repeated, Emerald introduced her band - surely it wasn’t that time already? The evening had flown by, wrapped in the feel-good rhythms and happy sounds to take everyone into a different world away from the realities.

As with expectation, the encore followed, and as Emerald had now truly captured her audience, she played with them by inviting participation.

Swiftly splitting the crowd and instructing caller and response singing, she had the backing to sing the catchy Stuck from her first album Deleteted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor.

This album also provided the final song of the evening, the equally catchy, A Night Like This, another huge favourite. With this healthy smattering of songs from this first album, from the follow-up album The Shocking Miss Emerald and the EP Emerald Island, this tour could be seen as a retrospective tour, yet with everyone still keenly awaiting the next album.

Thankfully the issues with the in-ear monitors didn’t seem to have any noticable effect on this unique and uplifting blend of jazz, swing and pop which Emerald has made her own but I did feel for her. How many others noticed, I don’t know but they all seemed to leave the Corn Exchange in happy spirits - but then you can’t fail not to with such happy music.

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