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Lianne La Havas Enchants a Sold-Out Music Hall of Williamsburg

April 11th, 2013

Lianne La Havas – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 10, 2013

A sold-out crowd filled the air with whispers of anticipation waiting for Lianne La Havas to take the stage last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Following a rollicking set from opener Jamie N Commons, we were primed and ready to hear even more fierce, soulful music. The lights crept up slowly on La Havas as she opened with an acoustic version of crowd favorite “No Room for Doubt.” The audience silently swayed and only occasionally sneaked pictures of the British songstress, clad in a gorgeous white dress and switching frequently among three guitars on hand for the occasion. A full band joined in after the first song and readied for “Au Cinéma.”

The other musicians—James Wyatt on keys, Chris Dagger on bass and Jay Sikora on drums, with backing vocals by Rhianna Kenny—combined for a sensational sound as La Havas continued to woo the crowd with renditions of “Everything Everything” and “Is Your Love Big Enough?” her breakout 2012 debut record’s title track. During the latter, she entreated us to join her, saying, “I’d like to make kind of a human drum kit” and quickly taught us a routine complete with syncopated claps and stomping. She then led us into a more subdued and mesmerizing interlude with “Tease Me,” “Gone” and “Lost & Found.” “Let us talk about my ex-boyfriend for a minute. I hope you will join me in getting some aggression out,” said La Havas, smiling coyly, before they doled out a triumphant version of “Forget!” followed by an excellent cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” and then “They Could Be Wrong.” Pleased by the crowd, at one point the singer-songwriter gushed: “Honestly, I just love my job.”

During “Don’t Wake Me Up,” La Havas smiled brightly as she introduced her talented band members, clearly a tight-knit bunch. Uproarious applause spilled through the venue as we beckoned La Havas back for an encore. She gladly obliged, with perfectly executed versions of “Empty,” “Elusive” and “Age.” Her music is uniquely soulful and simmers with graceful defiance. La Havas is about the begin working on her sophomore album, which she promises will be released later this year. And at the end of her set, grinning from ear to ear, La Havas asked us if she could snap a few pictures, going so far as to ask if the lights on the balcony could be adjusted to get a better shot of the faces beaming back at her. Her humility is sincerely enchanting, and this soul chanteuse is clearly destined for continued success. —Schuyler Rooth