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Review: Paloma Faith at The Sage Gateshead

The Guy Barker Orchestra did a marvellous job of backing chart-topping singer Paloma Faith at The Sage as Mercedes Broadbent found out

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David Lau Paloma Faith performed at the Sage Gateshead backed by a 42-piece orchestra
Paloma Faith performed at the Sage Gateshead backed by a 42-piece orchestra

“Thank you coming out to support real music, this is how it’s supposed to be,” said Paloma, grinning, as she stood on the stage of Hall One, backed by a 42-piece orchestra.

It would have been difficult to argue with her, as the sheer wall of sound produced by the Guy Barker Orchestra was stunning.

It is a temporary venture, formed to support the singer-songwriter on a short tour around the UK, and this was their last show.

Although Paloma is technically the special guest of the orchestra, there was little doubt in my mind as to who the real star was on Wednesday night.

However, the show was also unusually egalitarian, as both of the star’s backing singers performed solos before she took the stage.

Naomi Miller’s Son of a Preacherman was upbeat and technically proficient, and Sabrina Ramikie’s You Make Me Feel was soulful and arresting, but still very understated.

The orchestra itself was tight and imaginative, a highlight being what Guy Barker said the members referred to as the “Palomoverture” — an overture of Paloma’s work mixed with some Etta James and Billie Holiday.

But undoubtedly most of the audience were there to see Paloma, who was magnetic on stage and wore a beautiful 1940s-style evening gown with a huge slit up the back to allow her to dance.

Her voice wobbled a little at times, and by her own admission she was not well.

She apparently would have told us what was wrong, but it was “horrible”.

However, she moved through her set with almost as much ease as she moved around the stage, which included solo dance pieces as she sang.

By the end of the show, which finished in style with New York, almost the entire audience was up and dancing.

Paloma was clearly not at her best, but it still felt a lot like her best, and, like a true showgirl, she made sure it did not matter.

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