LIVE: Neneh Cherry @ Albert Hall

WORDS BY PABLO BLANQUITO

The cult of personality can be a strange thing and Neneh Cherry exemplifies that phenomenon in one package. She did when she exploded into public consciousness as the most famous Buffalo Girl and she does 30 years later. A sold-out Albert Hall was thick with the air of Adidas, cagoules and old Hacienda regulars, as the crowd made their way into the venue and it was clear that it was going to be a very generational thing.

All areas were completely full and beautiful staging surrounded the musicians as they took the stage just before Ms. Cherry herself. Dressed entirely in Die Marke Mid Den 3 Striefen (Adidas), draped black and white dress, white shell toes and hair tightly braided. She bounded on stage and immediately threw herself into the rhythms of the band.

The first couple of tracks were standouts from her recent critically acclaimed album Broken Politics. Cheap Breakfast Special being the first song which she messed up but was rescued by Rosie (the incredible multi-instrumentalist ) then apologised with great genuity. This was followed by Fallen Leaves / Shot Gun Shack and Deep Vein Thrombosis – which some found ironic taking into account the average age in the venue. She engaged readily with the audience with charm throughout. Riffing on Vimto coming from the city, Shaun Ryder and all her other connections to Mancunia. This is a multi-faceted woman with numerous influences who has always filtered them into her creative ventures whether that be cooking, music or fashion.

 

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She headed then into upbeat Four Tet-produced tracks from the last two albums. Percussion led and manna to all the mid ’40s/early 50’s ravers who were by now well oiled and ready to dance. Her voice is a lot more powerful live than you’d imagine and her excellent musicians taking her through Afro and Latin-inspired breakdowns allowing her to show off her own floor moves with aplomb. She returned to her most recent album for an excellent rendition of Kong before half apologising for time traveling back to perform Man Child which was an obvious crowd favourite.

The acclaim and noise after each track seemed a little disproportionate to the performance from my perspective. No doubt she was professional and vibrant but as she hit the end of the set she dropped Buffalo Stance and the place erupted in wild applause. Almost as loud as I ever heard in the venue which is saying something.  She returned for a two-track encore and included 7 Seconds another global hit from the back catalogue. Overall a short but tight show with excellent musicianship and staging. However, the overwhelming feeling leaving Albert Hall was how much the perception of cool and nostalgia can affect peoples relationship to music.

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