Lianne La Havas – The Bowery Ballroom – July 9, 2015
Nearly 3 years ago, I had the pleasure to see Lianne La Havas grace the stage at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom, performing for a growing fan base. Since then, her star has only risen, winning Album of the Year at iTunes UK for her 2012 debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, and providing backing vocals for a lil’ dude named Prince last fall on Saturday Night Live. She returned for another sold-out Bowery Ballroom appearance last night, on the heels of a soon-to-be released sophomore effort, Blood. Her latest work draws from a Jamaican vacation she took with her mother, reconnecting with relatives and, naturally, the famed dance halls of Kingston.
Opening with that album’s lead single, “Unstoppable,” La Havas displayed a groove reminiscent of Erykah Badu with a pop kick. She strapped on the bass for another new tune, “Green and Gold,” before returning to familiar material. Rattling off “but found myself in a secondhand guitar,” the British songstress strummed her mint green electric guitar for fave “Is Your Love Big Enough?” She managed to seamlessly appease with songs from her previous album while introducing new material from the upcoming one. Pairing the new and Lauryn Hill–tinged “Grow” with oldie “Age” demonstrated the sophistication she’s developed from simple ditty to a mature composition, which had the crowd singing along to a chorus of “Turn up for love.” To conclude her set, the rock-heavy “Never Get Enough” had the lass pounding her fists to the beat of the drums.
Not to end the evening short, opener Keenan O’Meara joined the headliner for another new track, “Wonder.” The band returned for the debut of her latest single “What You Don’t Do,” which had echoes of Aretha Franklin’s soul. When La Havas announced the last song, fans booed but were quickly relieved with the knowledge that she would be returning to Terminal 5 in September. Although the night ended with “Forget,” the performance won’t be wiped from anyone’s recollection. La Havas is now a star rather than a rising one, and there will be no sophomore slump as her latest record will only add to her fame. —Sharlene Chiu