Since Katie Melua’s amazing debut Call Off the Search in 2003, Melua’s music has become synonymous with easy listening and the go-to artiste for those chill-out moments. Yet to pigeon-hole her in that genre would be unfair as her songs have real substance and can be truly uplifting as well as romantic and bitter-sweet.
Moving from a politically charged Georgia to a troubled Belfast at the age of 8, it was when the family relocated to London that Melua musical attributes really blossomed with a place at BRIT School for Performing Arts and where she attracted the attentions of her future manager and producer Mike Batt.
Possessing such a unique voice is an obviously great starting point but, with Melua you get the complete package. Superbly crafted songs, expertly played that seem so effortless, and that are very difficult to forget and linger as if providing comfort.
Opening with “If You Are So Beautiful” from last year’s In Winter album, alone and accompanied by herself on guitar, it was a very subtle start that set the tone as the performance built gently with musicians added as the evening progressed.
Melua is not the most talkative of performers during breaks in the set to change guitars or allow for changes in performers. Just a few words of thanks and the occasional reference to a band mate, but mostly it’s her and her music and a time for reflection in the quiet moments whilst earning well deserved applause from a packed audience.
Whether it be her own songs or her excellent choice of covers, Melua couldn’t fail as each song complimented the last. The evening took on a Christmas feel with the addition of the Gori Women’s Choir, a native Georgian choir that provided quite stunning support for Melua especially the carol “O Holy Night” and “The Little Swallow” that had you expecting a snow flurry anytime to further enhance the seasonal feel in a winter themed show that included a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River”.
Highlights of a quite exceptional evening were undoubtedly her version of “Diamonds Are Forever” and her breakout hit “Closest Thing To Crazy” the former that even our very own Shirl would have been mighty impressed with, such is her talent for turning such a recognisable tune into something quite different.
If there was anything that could make you feel good about the impending rush towards Christmas then an evening with Katie Melua was perfect to help take your mind of the stresses and strains of frantic season ahead.
Image Allan Jones