“Good evening London city!” Dutch jazz singer Caro Emerald screamed. “This is the very last show we’re going to play in the Absolutely Me tour tonight” she continued. “We’re going to make it a party, enjoy!”
The Amsterdam-native brought her 18-date UK headline tour to a close with a show at West London’s Hammersmith Apollo.
Coming to prominence in 2009, following her debut single making waves in the Netherlands and her second single reaching number one in the Dutch charts, both released on her own record label, she quickly followed up that early success with debut studio album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor the following year.
Genre-pushing sophomore album The Shocking Miss Emerald emerged in 2013 to critical and commercial success, debuting at number 1 on the UK album charts. And while her third album had been teased with single Quicksand back in April, it is yet to appear.
Emerald, real name Caroline van der Leeuw, began the evening with a private performance of second album song Completely to VIP ticket-holders ahead the main event, starting her main show from the circle section of the West London venue, appearing under a spotlight wearing a bright yellow, orange and black top, while her six-piece band took the main stage for debut album track The Other Woman.
The stage was transformed into a Riviera scene, with screens depicting palm trees lighting it up as the 34-year-old made her way down to join her band for Absolutely Me, a modern beat accompanying the small brass section.
The Riviera theme came to the forefront next as the band broke into a samba beat, accompanying fifth single Riviera Life. Debut single Back It Up followed, the heavy beat garnering general head-bopping from the seated London audience as Emerald made the most of the Hammersmith stage, moving from one end to the other and eventually ditching her shoes, going barefoot.
“I’m so honoured to be here tonight, this is such a legendary theatre” she said of the historic former Odeon venue before encouraging some audience participation for newest single Quicksand, the seated audience slowly demonstrating a more lively flair.
A superb trumpet solo introduced true vintage-styled Deleted Scenes track The Lipstick On His Collar next but, after the slow-paced Black Valentine, it was with Shocking Miss Emerald number Pack Up The Louie that upped the tempo once more.
“So I’ve been trying to explain to audiences what it’s like to be touring” Emerald said, “and I think the best way to describe it is to say that it’s like waking up someplace where you weren’t the night before” she continued, garnering sniggers from the crowd.
Highlights included a tremendous clap-along saxophone solo during a cover of Propellerheads’ 1997 hit History Repeating with Emerald suitably stepping in for Shirley Bassey, a cover of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass as well as Emerald’s ode to drinking, Liquid Lunch for which she eventually convinced the Apollo audience to rise from their seats.
Following a brief break from the stage for a quick outfit change, the Amsterdam Conservatory jazz-trained vocalist returned to the stage for a three-song encore, trading her brightly coloured outfit for a black and silver outfit, topped off with a black beret.
Following sophomore record track Tangled Up, and in a break from her usual set, Emerald broke into a seasonal rendition of Wham! classic Last Christmas before closing out the evening with A Night Like This.
It’s hard not to compare Caro Emerald to the likes of Imelda May, Paloma Faith and those who have come after the hugely successful and genre-reinvigorating Amy Winehouse. And while she doesn’t bring the quirky aura that surrounds those acts, she is still enigmatic in her own right and brings her distinctive personality to both the material and her colourful live show. And what material it is, retro-jazz styling with modern pop overlays, harking back to big band ensembles of the 1940’s and 50’s but encompassing everything from Mambo, Salsa, Jazz and modern dance, making for a diverse catalogue of music.
Caro Emerald returns to the UK next July for the newly announced Summer Days Festival being held at Clitheroe Castle in Lancashire.
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The full image set here on RockShot Magazine’s photo pages http://rockshot.photoshelter.com/gallery/Caro-Emerald/G0000jEenpgvk9hY
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his Flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate