Parveen Devi reviews BBC Proms ‘Late Night with Laura Mvula’
Photo credit: Mark Allan/BBC
Stage-side, the Metropole Orkest were sat perfectly poised to the left with the choir to the right. The subtle lighting and iconic setting amped up the anticipation levels as the hordes waited intently for the classically trained singer, pianist and composer to enter.
And she did. Right on time.
The previously hushed crowd immediately began to applaud; her black velvet, strapless gown, complete with a mesh underskirt and diamanté detail dazzled. A natural afro hair style completed her look. This one, in contrast to her usually edgy cropped do, seemed less polished but equally effective for the occasion.
She began with, ‘Like the Morning Dew’, and from then it was clear that we were experiencing something special. Accompanied by the Metropole Orkest and a suitably talented choir, Mvula’s performances ensured everyone was glued to their seats, enthralled.
Stand out tracks were ‘Flying Without You’ – a liberating set of vocals where Mvula sang that she ‘found something better’, after moving on from heartbreak . In ‘Green Garden’, she belted out lyrics that would have her ‘fly away with the wings of a butterfly’, seemingly describing a certain freedom and empowerment of self.
She said: ‘I never expected to be asked to do my own prom! It’s been a dream of mine, and I think I’m still processing what that means’.
Explaining her mindset behind her drive she stated, ‘My mum used to tell me that anything was possible. I’ve always carried that with me and use it particularly when I am writing and composing my songs. I don’t limit myself with rules or structures and I think that freedom allows me to create something new and unusual’.
These empowering words seem to be evident through her music. She swims through genres with a apparently effortless approach, creating fusions between unrecognisable sounds that have the ability to manipulate the senses in a thought-provoking way.
That aside, her lyrics were sometimes lost through the classical style, which made it difficult to understand exactly what she was saying at times, plunging parts of the performance into the realms of style rather than substance.
In all, Laura Mvula is a powerhouse in her own right. She sings with a ‘Fela-eqsue’ integrity about love, heartbreak, pain and joy, commanding and creating compelling and finely tuned music. Revolutionary: no. Esteemed: probably. One of a kind: absolutely.
For the full review visit the House of Papillion website