Laura Mvula

Everything happened in 12 hours.
And I can’t only blame myself. I mean, it is impossible to read or listen to everything but I am quite into the music panorama to have a feel of what is going on still…

Morning coffee. It is the 6th of March 2013.
Reading the papers, I am in the live music reviews to check live pics and I come across two pictures of the same girl.

I learn that Laura Mvula debuted at the Tabernacle in London with a show presenting her album released the day before: Sing To The Moon.
The Guardian and the Independent both have a review of the same gig. Something you may expect for the return of My Bloody Valentine or Radiohead but not of an emerging singer unless…

Lunchtime. Still the 6th of March.
I receive the e-mail confirming I am assigned to shoot Jessie Ware opening her tour at the Junction in Cambridge.
As I usually do in this situations, lunchtime browsing to check live photo to see what to expect and a quick visit at to know who’s Jessie Ware‘s support and decide if it is worth going to take some snaps.
Surprise surprise, Laura Mvula will be opening this tour.

Evening. The same 6th of March.
The English expression “to kill two birds with one stone” doesn’t sound nice here but surely I am about to shooting two birds with one camera in a couple of hours.

I do some more research to discover that it is, as usual, my fault.
Laura Mvula is 4th on BBC sounds of 2013 poll, the same of Savages that I recently just posted. She is also shortlisted as critic’s choice awards at the Brits and has appeared at TV shows.
Such exposure is also possible because RCA (owned by Sony) signed her. There is a big production working on the background but it is nice to see it allocated where it is also deserved.

Night. 6th of March. 12 hours since I read the morning papers.
Many people arrive early at the Junction and it looks clear this is one of those rare occasions when a ‘double bill’ is worth its name.
Laura Mvula is not just a filler to avoid fans that the night they look for ends too early. People are arriving early to check her live.

Laura Mvula arrives on stage with a six pieces band. A double bass, cello and her sister, Dionne, on violin. Full strings support the warm sound of her songs.
She sits at the keys and it is clear from the beginning, even before she begins to sing, I am in front of a ‘pop star to be’.

Laura has the charisma, the attitude and the stage presence of someone who is confident and has only to wait to be big.

As soon as she sings I get the full picture. Literally.
Classically trained, soul inspired, pop driven and Jazz lover, the songs have everything to please a wide audience. And the audience appreciate.

Her natural place would be (and will be, trust me) Later with … Jools Holland or a spot at one of those literary festival, as Cambridge folk or Latitude stage.

I am not a fan of easy listening, soul-gospel-infused-pop or anything that can remind me of it, either in its historical form or in any Michael Kiwanuka surrogate. It’s me, it leaves me cold.
But I have to be sincere, Laura Mvula is talented and throughout the short slot she plays, I can hear songs deserve to have a bigger place. They are not derivative, they are good and she makes them very personal.

British audience love this music. Since HMV agonized, supermarkets CD sales increased and WHSmith re-stocked its chain with recorded music.
It will be nice to see those commercial spaces diplaying a quality album among the ‘reduced to clear’ pop crap.

Since Amy’s death, Duffy’s flop, Lily’s baby and Adele’s Oscar there is a void to be filled in the market.

RCA smelled it and signed Laura Mvula to fill the void. 2013 will be her year, she’s only 25, and a world is waiting to listen to her songs.

With such a short time, I don’t really have much more to say about her, I am now listening to her album on on spotify and will surely go back to photograph her once she does her very own tour.

If you are a fan of Emeli Sande or Lauryn Hill and I made you curious enough, these are the first places to satisfy your curiosity: [website][facebook][twitter][spotify]

Photo tip

There are concerts where the first three songs are in complete darkness (talking to you Nick Cave) or under red lights (and you Mark Lanegan) and there are songs where the artist for the first three songs is stuck on a side.

Then, as the last chord of the third songs is played, the security guy ‘kindly’ escorts photographers out of the pit, the artist comes out in full splendour.

I don’t know if this is done on purpose (why?) or because they don’t know (I’m telling you!) but if you are an emerging artist, or anyone in search of media exposure, if you accept photographers and want to be represented at your best by images, it’s better you give a variety of your performance at the beginning. Everything that will happen late would be unreported or, worse, reported on youtube crap.

Laura arrives and sits behind the keyboards for the first three songs. I appreciated this may be an artistic choice which cannot be changed but we stay there for 10 minutes and to take the same picture hundred times means there will be only one photo, samey, for anyone.
Then, as soon as I leave the pit, she stands to sing the rest of the set.

This is a short appeal, destined to go unread but, if you are a musician and you want to see pictures of you that are not all the same, since we are allowed for the first three songs to portray you, it is better if you start your show with three songs that show what to expect from your gig.

I know it is your choice, but let me tell you, photography helps much more than word to fix your image in peoples’ mind. Never underestimate the power of a good image.

~ by Valerio on March 18, 2013.

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