Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping and Fucking hit British theatre like a…
It’s hard not to love Beverley. She’s campaigned against homophobic lyrics, done tons of charity work for HIV/AIDS and safe sex campaigns, oh, and she’s a fun-loving fighter with a soul stirring voice.
Knight truly captured my heart when she devoted some of her most beautiful songs on Affirmation to Tyrone Jamison. He was her best friend and flatmate who died due to AIDS in 2003.
As someone who knew Tyrone, I’ll never forget the first time I heard the album, ‘cause it made me sob in Sainsbury’s. I became so emotional, I had to leave before security staff removed me from the store.
The song that broke me the dairy area was ‘Remember Me’. It still makes me blub to this day. It’s not just my personal connection to Tyrone that makes me weep. It’s Beverley’s sincere, raw and blistering delivery that cuts to the core. And the emotional punch of those words:
‘Well, one day we will be reunited
Least I hope that is our destiny
So while you chill in the arms of angels
Remember me, remember me’
That’s why she’s the UK’s best soul singer. She’s real. She feels it. We feel it.
In 2009, Beverley Knight stepped onto the stage at the ICA to launch her new album 100%. It was an intimate gig with hardcore fans, media and the random celebs (Jason Orange, Dan Gillespie, me).
Looking foxy and slicker than she did 10 years earlier, Beverley delivered a homely charm that was utterly endearing. Despite sell out gigs at the Albert Hall, sipping tea with The Queen and touring with Take That, she’s still a girl from Wolvo’. Her gratitude to the fans feels gorgeously heartfelt.
After dumping Parlophone following 11 years comittment, she set up her own label Hurricane Records and roared back into town with an album that’s on her own terms.
Songwriters and producers on this new album include Jam & Lewis, (whose previous credits include Janet Jackson, Usher and Mariah Carey) and previous collaborators Guy Chambers and DJ Munro.
Old school blues
After the old school blues of Music City Soul, it sounds like Beverley’s returning to a more contemporary R&B sound for 100%. The new material went down a storm with the crowd- because (a) it’s excellent (b) she introduced the songs with such charm that you can’t help but love her. There is also the fact that Beverley could sing the words from an application from for Housing Benefit and still give them soul.
Of course, she boasts a great back catalogue. The old hits; Shoulda Woulda Coulda, Come as You Are, Keep the Fire Burning, and her astounding take on Erma Franklin’s ‘Piece of My Heart’ completely raised the roof of the ICA. She had the entire room grinning and dancing.
It was a flawless show and a special shout has to go out to the band and her backing singers, including the super charming Bryan Chambers. Occasionally you go to gigs and you leave thinking- wow, I was blessed to be there.
That’s what I thought that night, but I reckon it’s a gratitude the audience feel whenever they leave a Beverley gig. If you get a chance, see her. She’s the business.