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Rumer - Barbican, London, 24/2/2015

  by Owen Peters

published: 12 / 4 / 2015

Rumer - Barbican, London, 24/2/2015


Owen Peters watches bestselling singer-songwriter Rumer play a pitch perfect set to an enraptured audience at the Barbican in London

Except to walk on and off stage, Rumer doesn’t move more than three yards away from the microphone stand throughout her performance at The Barbican in London. She doesn’t do sing-a-longs, thrusting out a microphone for the audience to join in. She doesn’t do clap-a-longs to chorus lines. She doesn’t do a rebel-rousing “Heeelllooo London!” at the start of her set. She doesn’t dance either. The phenomenon known as Rumer sings with a gentle, hypnotic addictive style. It’s easy to fall under her spell. Sarah Joyce (Rumer) was born in Islamabad, Pakistan as the youngest of seven children. When her parents divorced, the family moved to England where she completed her education. From 2000 to 2010 Sarah tried various jobs, defining herself as an optimistic waitress whilst trying to establish a musical career. As the century's first decade was closing off, Sarah Joyce had become Rumer. Her debut album, ‘Seasons of My Soul’, which was produced by Steve Brown, was released in 2010, and the rest as they say is history. All her years of hard work and tenacity had finally come to fruition, and her music had a fan base. Tonight Rumer is playing London’s Barbican Hall as part of her UK/European tour through February and early March (A US tour in April has just been announced, although venues are not yet available.). Performers and punters are divided on the ambience of The Barbican, with its brutalism architecture which translates from the French (beton brut) to “raw concrete”. The building and atmosphere can feel sanitised, functional and at times cold. When Rumer comes on stage to an audience of over 1300, a football type roar of approval goes through the auditorium. Her devotees are welcoming her home to London with warmth and affection. She is supported by a six piece band, led by Rob Shirakbari, their musical director (who is to marry Rumer in May) on piano leading the orchestration. The opening number is ‘Dangerous’, the title track from the new album ‘Into Colour’ It’s a good choice, and with its pulsating disco tempo a song most people won’t have heard live. Three songs into the set, and with a subtle re-arrangement of her long black evening dress, she has a brief chat with the audience, before continuing with ‘Reach Out’. If you close your eyes, you would be hard pressed to define the difference between a CD of Rumer in your living room and this live performance. The quality of this woman's voice is exceptional. She doesn’t struggle on pitch, scale, register or timing. Her diction is impeccable, and notes are never forced. She makes it sound easy. Some artists want to change and mix up the sound and tempo of their albums. Some audiences pay to hear the difference between live performances and the record material. Not here, not a chance. Most of the audience are couples, verging on or well established into the demographic known as “silver surfers.” Style changes aren’t required or requested here. Neither party disappoint the other. ‘Baby Come Back to Bed’, ‘Blackbird’ and ‘I am Blessed’ are all performed in the key of perfection. The audience become more settled and appreciative with much hand holding and reassuring heads resting on partners’ shoulders. Rumer shares brief stories: “Rob and I with Vince wrote this song ‘Pizza and Pinball’ about hanging out together”. She doesn’t give too much away. “I brought this song ‘I Can’t Go for That’ (the classic Hall and Oates song) back from my travels to the US along with another man” (husband to be). There are wry smiles from Rumer and Rob, and congratulatory applause from the stalls and circle. The opening notes of ‘Aretha’ give way to spontaneous applause. For her fans, it is an homage to say we know the place you were in when you wrote this song. We know, we are your fans. Silence isn’t a problem at any point of the show. With the rendition of ‘Slow’, I’m sure people held their breath for three minutes, such is the respect given to this song. When she confirms, “This is my last song” with ‘Play Your Guitar’, the disappointment is tangible. As Rumer leaves the stage blowing kisses and waving to her audience, I hear one worried couple converse with each other. “Oh, I hope she does come back and sings some more”. They speak on behalf of most fans. No worries, Rumer and the band don’t prolong or abuse the encore. I was at a gig last week where the audience had to clap and sing for ten minutes before the band came back on stage. There are no such theatrics here. A minute elapses, they are back on stage. Well, four of them. Pulling up a chair, with a nod from Shirakbari on piano, she eases into a stripped down version of ‘Thankful’. For someone who has openly discussed her fear of playing to large audiences, this is nothing less than a master class in delivery and confidence. It is a stunning rendition of a beautifully crafted song. To close off the evening the six piece band are back together with an extended version of a Todd Rundgren composition, ‘Love is the Answer’. It is a nice touch with each band member getting a welcome solo slot in the spotlight. The church of Rumer rises as a body of 1300, giving her performance a standing ovation, cries of “We love you” and ”Don’t go” being conveyed by her brethren with sincerity. Rumer tells her followers she wants to see them afterwards for chat, to sign autographs and maybe a drink. For fans of Rumer could this evening get any better? It just did.

Picture Gallery:-
Rumer - Barbican, London, 24/2/2015

Rumer - Barbican, London, 24/2/2015

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Interview (2015)
Rumer - Interview
Owen Peters talks to much acclaimed singer-songwriter Rumer about her forthcoming UK/European tour and recently released third album, 'Into the Colour'

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