Elle King is an odd lady to pin a genre to. On Monday night, she came out onto the stage at Brighton dome, as the support act for James Bay. She swiftly started, quite impressively, with the full band coming in at the same moment. What that “full band sound” was, is hard to describe. I usually reserve judgement for the end of a review, but it would be no wrong not to mention right now how fantastic she was.
Her voice can most certainly be described as the power of Paloma Faith crossed with a pitch-perfect, but gritty at times, Amy Winehouse. But her music has a far more country edge to it than either of those mentioned acts, and too much variety to present her as a singular sound. Variety is key, and variety is indeed good.
Elle King originates from Ohio, and it shows with her thick accent most certainly being displayed when she talks to the audience, which is refreshing. She does shy away from the conversational aspect of a gig, the connection between a waiting audience and an all powerful band on stage. A few highlights included how beautiful her band was, and how they were all men, but also how she feels she has a few more years “slutting” around left. Brave, bold and true to herself.
The only abundantly clear negative point of the night was that her band did not look like a band. I would be very surprised if they weren’t cobbled together session musicians, as the keyboardist definitely was not interested. He sat down for the entirety of the short set and spoke frequently to the side of the stage. They all played their part well though, particularly the awkwardly posed drummer who looked like he had just seen Jurassic World and decided to do an imitation of a dinosaur for a night. They all particularly shined on “Under The Influence”, a true “Back to Black” successor. Musically, they complemented Elle very well, but presentation wise they were far off.
“Ex’s and Oh’s” is a clever break-up song disguised in the guise of an upbeat country-pop song. The lyrics make it abundantly clear what it is about, but her performance does too. She sang – as she did throughout the gig – with such sheer power and talent that her feelings came through in her delivery alone. I wish the same could be said for the headline act of James Bay. James sounds like he “might” be interested in that really nice house that’s been built down the road, but Elle is ready to move in today, possessions in one hand and passion in the other.
Highly recommendable if you have not had the pleasure of hearing her already, and it must be said she displays her vocal ability far more live than on the record.