Stuck in a strange town on a Friday night, what better than tracking down a long-legged, sexy-as-hell soul diva to spend the evening with?
A couple of years ago, I had a ticket to see Beverley Knight at Glasgow’s ABC, an up-close-and-personal venue where the sweat condenses on the ceiling and drips into your beer, which many gig-goers would reckon are ideal conditions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go, though I can’t remember why. So, at my second conference in three days and full to the brim of academic talk, I decided to make up for that missed opportunity.
Annoyingly, though, the venue couldn’t be worse. It has all the charm of a Soviet Bloc warehouse used to store obsolete biochemical weapons. The effect is compounded by the loftiness of the stage which gives the impression, even only a dozen rows back, that you’re watching someone as distant as Stalin at a May Day parade.
As a result, what should be – and I’m sure is – a tightly knit professional funk band sounds bloated and echoey, which doesn’t do Knight’s belting delivery any favours. The rock numbers (I’ve always liked “Come as You Are”) fare a little better. There’s also a weakness in the repertoire and some mawkish X-factor type moments that add up to a disappointing evening.
Of course, there are compensations. The band, I’m sure, would be fantastic if we could hear them properly, and Knight is a truly great vocalist who has bags of energy and works the crowd like a trooper. She is also astonishingly gorgeous, and slickly changes outfits that become progressively shorter, revealing more and more of those truly perfect pins: I don’t know how tall she is – five-eight? – but her legs are easily six-foot seven.
But, lovely as she is to look at, I’m here for the voice, and the hall doesn’t do it justice. Am I prepared to give her a second chance in a more intimate venue like the ABC? Probably. I’ll just take an umberella for the beer.