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The gays love Beverley, ‘cause she’s spoken out against homophobic lyrics in dancehall and rap, done tons of charity work to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS and safe sex campaigns, oh, and she’s a fun loving fighter. In my book, she’s a legend, ‘cause she devoted some of her most beautiful songs on Affirmation to Tyrone Jamison, her best mate who died of the AIDS in 2003.
As someone who knew Tyrone, I’ll never forget the first time I heard the album, ‘cause it made me cry so much in Sainsbury’s, that I had to leave before security staff removed me from the store. The song that broke me to bits in the dairy area was ‘Remember Me’. Seven years on, it can still make me blub. However, it’s not the personal connection to Tyrone that makes me weep, no Sir. It’s Beverley’s heartfelt, sincere, raw and blistering delivery that cuts to the core. That’s why she’s the UK’s best soul singer, ‘cause it’s real.
So, last night, Beverley Knight stepped onto the stage at the ICA to launch her new album 100%. It was a delightfully intimate gig with her hardcore fans, press and the odd celeb (Jason Orange, Dan Gillespie Sells). Looking terribly foxy and impressively slicker than she did 10 years ago, Beverley has a homely charm that’s utterly endearing. Despite the sell out gigs at the Albert Hall, tea with The Queen and touring with Take That, she’s still a girl from Wolvo’ and her gratitude to the fans feels touchingly sincere.
Having dumped Parlophone after 11 years, she’s set up her own label Hurricane Records and is roaring back into town with an album that’s on her own terms. New songwriters and producers 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 and soul 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 give them soul.
Of course, she boasts a great back catalogue and 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 and had the entire room grinning and dancing.
It was a faultless show and a special shout has to go out to the band and her backing singers who included the very sexy Bryan Chambers. Occasionally you go to gigs and you walk out thinking- wow, I was very blessed to be there. That’s what I thought last night, but I reckon it’s a gratitude the audience feel whenever they leave a Beverley Knight show. If you get a chance, go see her, she’s the real deal.
The album 100% and her new single ‘Beautiful Night’ are out now.