(seen at the performance on 14th November 2023).
As introductory act DJ Munro explains, a Beverley Knight Concert is not “you and her” but “us”. In a packed audience containing Denise Lewis and Dame Kelly Holmes among others, these proved wise words.
From her first appearance in a blaze of lights, fluff and sequins, the house was on its feet as Knight opened with a rock out “Greatest Day,” bulldozing into “Made It Back” – which really didn’t need saying. The lady has arrived.
Electronic toned ballads really suit her, as “Systematic Overload” proves. Opening the throttle, “A Little More Love” moved into a ridiculously high gear that would have Madonna worried, before a triple serving “Flavour of the Old School / Moving On Up / Get Up” gave her talented backing vocalists a few moments and Ms Knight a chance to get her breath back after some simple beats and heavy moves.
An unfamiliar number to the monkey, “Keep This Fire Burning,” will have it seeking out more of Robyn’s music as Knight demonstrated singular vocal ability covering the song in a blaze of appropriately red light.
Crediting her friend, “Gold” has the line,” you’re looking at the real thing” – and we are, centre stage alone at the microphone.
“Cold World” is philosophical, “happiness fighting just to die” – Knight referencing the world situation.
Accompaniment stripped back for three acoustic numbers. “Fallen Soldier” a tribute to Stephen Lawrence, every word simply the heartbreaking truth Knight is determined to give voice to.
“Sista Sista” about family bonding is another tribute, this time to Paul Reid, her band member who passed away on 25th December 2020, leaving this beautiful arrangement as one legacy to celebrate.
Finally “The Need of You” ends the trilogy of relationships, the one of bonding with a partner.
Returning to the up-beat, “I’m On Fire” raises the temperature again, the sheer joy of fun and freedom.
“Shoulda Woulda Coulda” is slinky and rhythmic, before “Someone Else’s Problem” gives us that feeling of release we all know when divesting ourselves of a bad relationship or situation. “Last One On My Mind” is a step on from that, when we can look back and assess.
Ending the main set, “Come as You Are” sums up the Beverley Knight philosophy of think hard about yourself and others, but be true to yourself and never forget to party when you can.
Encores are well selected. A change into a stunning black outfit for an “I’m Every Woman” which out Chakas Chaka Khan, before bringing the house down covering “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince. The audience want to be her lover too, so it is a match.
Rounding off with “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and a terrifically thought-out exit, the smile on faces as we take leave of each other say it all.
Beverley Knight is a powerhouse in every way as a performer. Always moving, never slacking in her desire to entertain and share her rhythm. A voice filling the vast Palladium with enough left over that if the doors were open it would fill Argyll Street as well.
Most of all, the sheer gratitude that she has been blessed with her talents and the chance to share them. The lady from Wolverhampton is as real and humble as her charisma; an evening shared with her is equally special.
On this tour, Beverley Knight was supported by American Singer-Songwriter Casey McQuillen. McQuillen’s New York wit linked some autobiographical songs with sparkly boots.
“Dying” about being dumped. “Hold Me,” a jangly song which got her onto US National TV show “Temptation Island,” and something of a wail of regret.
Strongest number “Skinny” about the yearn to be as popular and at ease with herself as the thin girl at the centre of attention.
A quick cover of 1950s Jazz standard, Etta James “At Last” to prove this former wedding singer can hold a long note before ending on self-written “In and Out.”
McQuillen has something and will tour the UK in her own show next year. Perhaps a little comedy song writing calls as blending that stage personality with the main work suggests possibilities there.