THE roadies are wearing black and white-striped prison uniforms -- the classic American type. They're surrounded by a pair of artificial trees. If I'm not mistaken, there are gold leaves 'growing' from these trees. A bit much for Vicar Street, right?
Maybe. But Paloma Faith doesn't do things by halves. She'll jump on a piano if she wants to (and she does). She'll kick off her high heels and tear away those silk sleeve gloves if she feels like it (and she does). She might even go crowd surfing should the opportunity arise (it doesn't).
Indeed, whatever ideas Ms Faith has of herself, they appear to have caught on. Should Paloma wish to entertain her fans dressed like an extra from Downton Abbey (an extra from upstairs, that is), then so be it. It's all about creating a theatrical event. She'll even wave her arms around while a handy voiceover reminds us of Faith's previous life as a sales assistant in a lingerie store.
Occasionally, Faith's fancy illusion will come crashing to the ground. But she's well aware of what a cheeky London accent can do to a crowd. And there are two things that we can take away from these brief yet humorous moments of chit-chat.
One is that the 27-year-old singer is a likeable artist whose confidence and ability as both a performer and a vocalist have improved greatly. The other is that, as far as the tunes are concerned, Paloma tries way too hard to convince us that she isn't just some girl playing dress-up in the charts -- she's the real deal. One day, perhaps, but not today.
Try as she might to create a mystical aura around songs of heartache (New York), young love (30 Minute Love Affair) and more heartache (Picking Up the Pieces), she's a far superior performer when focusing more on the audience and less on striking a pose.
She may have a lot more time for album number two, but it's her debut release that appears to have brought the punters out. For proof of where Paloma's talents really lie, you only need look at the response to Stone Cold Sober, or the annoyingly catchy Upside Down -- a playful, jazz-sprinkled number that doesn't care for heartstring-tugging or broken relationships.
What's more, Paloma and her band deliver them both without an air of pretence. And with a smile, too. It suits her. HHHII