Live music review: Esperanza Spalding, Koko, Camden 28th May 2012

Esperanza Spalding, Koko, Camden, May 28, 2012

What a lovely sunny evening it was for Ms Spalding to grace us with her presence. Camden’s Koko was buzzing…a complete sell-out – even the ticket touts were under pressure and were asking to buy tickets from the gathering crowd instead of the other way round. I haven’t seen that since the last time Stevie Wonder played Wembley Arena!

Showcasing her 4th studio album Radio Music Society Esperanza looked stunning.  Afro resplendent and garbed in a floor-length plum backless dress, she introduced her band, who were, incidentally, encased in a huge radio, were on form, on point and amazing. Alternating between electric and double bass, mixing ‘big band’ sound with nu Jazz, and old school Jazz, Esperanza’s smooth and smoky tones glided effortlessly through her new songs and a cover or two.  The audience loved Crowned and Kissed and of course Black Gold brought the house down. Personally, I’m glad she has revisited her funky style that was more apparent in her debut album, Esperanza than her last effort Chamber Music Society which was pretty tough going for the pseudo Jazz fan. It just seems to fit her a little better, and boy does she do it well.

I’m not sure if a venue like KOKO is ideal for an artist like Spalding – it’s a little large and loud for a musician who is quite intimate and likes to engage her audience in a little cosy storytelling in between tracks but I guess winning the best newcomer award at the Grammys and crossing over will do that to an artist. Its all about supply and demand – the bigger the artist, the bigger the venue… *sigh! But all in all a fantastic show, and I’ll look forward to seeing her at this year’s Jazz Festival.


Posted by Nicole V Sylvester