Last night I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Camille live at the Barbican. Quite frankly – it was one of the best musical performances I’ve ever witnessed and it firmly cements her as a top-tier musician, performer and all round entertainer.
Camille’s voice is practically flawless as she gyrates around the floor. Opening sprawled across the floor singing sections of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’, she slowly rises from a blue floor that becomes her dress. Then slowly in the opening medley of tracks, more instruments are revealed as blue cloaks lift up – with performers ready to play percussion, piano, synth and voice hiding underneath. Each track is bigger, louder, bolder until everyone is free under a giant illuminated frame drum which shone like a moon throughout.
The music is stunning and rich. I took a while to warm to her fourth album “Ilo Veyou” as its lots of bitty tracks showing off vocal range over melody at times, but here in a live context, each track sung from that album made so much more sense because the arrangements were richer. The title track became an Eastern singalong and others turned to disco beatbox choral pieces. Her amazing new album “Oui” also shines as each track feels more percussive and of the Earth in an arena where everyone is a drum.
Beyond that, Camille’s set and her performers are also integral. For a silk dress, a few huge blue dust sheets and a gem light – she gets tons of mileage. Her backing singers will tear the dress to make silhouette moments to dance to, or wrap it round Camille’s head as a song freaks out and she falls to the floor in a cinematic storytelling fashion. The dust sheets will sway and create their own motion too – it’s so well thought out. It’s a feast for all the senses, as they’re all dancing their way through with a wooden tap board stage – so every stomp is a kick drum – beyond the two percussionists! Similarly, the audience gets to play. If we’re not howling with her, she’s inviting people up on stage to create a one-off track. Different people singing “London” in a different way – she’d arrange them all quickly and then ab lib over the top – before bringing the whole audience in. Even for the reserved stuffy Brit’s among us, there were plenty singing.
There were so many highlights, I had a grin across my face that never faded. Frankly, it was the best live show I’d seen in years and the standing ovation that seemed to genuinely make Camille stand aback. Her show is a work of art and I urge everyone to see it.