Neneh Cherry - Stylus, Leeds University Union - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Neneh Cherry - Stylus, Leeds University Union

by charles filtness Rating: Release Date:
Neneh Cherry - Stylus, Leeds University Union
Neneh Cherry - Stylus, Leeds University Union

This first night of Neneh Cherry’s UK tour was a delight to see.  The songs from her new album played live were a revelation, compelling. The goose-bump count was also pretty high and I found myself smiling almost all the night through.

She is touring her most recent album, 2018’s ‘Broken Politics’, an apposite title if ever there was one.  Neneh’s output over the last 4 decades she has been releasing music has been sporadic and at times esoteric, to say the least. As the daughter of artist parents including the legendary free-jazz trumpeter Don Cherry as her stepdad, she was unlikely to settle into a life of the predictable pop mainstream. This most recent Kieren Hebden produced album is a hugely rewarding and coherent listen, much like its 2014 predecessor Blank Project.  That previous release, also in collaboration with Kieren, (more famous perhaps for his Four Tet moniker) surprisingly provides none of the songs tonight, this is all about Broken Politics from which tonight’s set is almost exclusively taken. 

On stage she is joined by six musicians, two guys essentially play the tunes from the back of the stage behind their laptops and other electronics, accompanied by various percussion playing, harp, guitar, keyboards, vibraphone and more.  That gives a flavour of the sound of the new album which has its upbeat highlights; Kong, Natural Skin Deep, Shot Gun Shack in particular. But tonight the whole set from Broken Politics is elevated.  There are delicate touches still; perhaps some of the vibe tonight could be best described as atmospheric, often complemented by subtle lighting to great effect.  But overall the set feels a more dancefloor informed affair and more vital for it.  Neneh’s on-stage moves and between song chat adding more charm to the evening. 

She is not averse to a bit of nostalgia she tells us ‘history’s cool right’ before delighting the crowd with Manchild towards the end of the main set. It’s a song that has a timeless quality, a classic from the 80s that still sounds fresh and is another triumph played live.  During the American and Australian leg of this tour, they have included a cover of Cole Porter’s ‘I’ve got you under my skin’, tonight however the band returns to the stage for a two-song encore which includes the duet ‘7 seconds’ instead.  A song that was a hit for her 1994 when originally performed with Youssou N’Dour.   Tonight one of her band amply fills those rather large boots, it is another highlight.  With Buffalo Stance ending the show, the nostalgia level is maintained and everyone kept happily smiling.  

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