Lianne La Havas | 04.14.13

lahavas 75It’s amazing what phenomenal talent can do.

 


Photos: Rachel Lee

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3rd & Lindsley, Nashville

It happened. I finally got a chance to watch British talent perform on stage—front and center. Lianne La Havas sashayed onto the stage with a crop top of triangle-shaped, rich-colored hues, black leggings, and high platform ankle boots. She was a sight to behold, but her soulful vocals were even more so.

As she strummed her guitar, beginning the words to “No Room for Doubt,” an interruption of radio music made her pause and the audience remark with variations of “What was that?” She laughed and said in her lovely British accent, “Let’s try this again,” and we did.

When La Havas sang, the entire audience sang along with her—harmonizing, too, but not so loudly as to prohibit ourselves from hearing her. Through the ballads that she admitted were about her ex-boyfriend, her face was filled with emotions. Scoping the room from the front of the stage, I saw a sea of people; it was a true melting pot. Black, white, Asian, Mexican, Latino—we were all there, singing and connecting with each other as Lianne La Havas delivered her heart via the music and lyrics in “Everything Everything,” “Au Cinema,” “Don’t Wake Me Up,” “They Could Be Wrong,” “Lost & Found;” and temptation on “Tease Me”—all from her debut album Is Your Love Big Enough?.

“You broke me and you taught me to truly hate myself/ Unfold me and teach me how to be like somebody else.” These lyrics from “Lost & Found” still linger in my heart with the piano, drums, and guitar accompaniment forever etched inside my mind, each time I reflect on the experience. It’s amazing what phenomenal talent can do.

“Now that I’m done singing about my ex-boyfriend, are you all ready for an upbeat tune?” La Havas asked as she started to strum the intro to “Is Your Love Big Enough?” She invited us to clap and stomp our feet to the beat of the drum (opener Jamie N Collins came out to show us how it was supposed to be done, too; for the record, his set was nothing less short of great, either., his raspy, folksy voice making us swoon and sway from side to side), and our crowd participation didn’t stop there. Call and response started “Forget,” and then she made a smooth transition to “Elusive” before venturing into more “songs about my ex-boyfriend.”

The lights were down low, the moment was intimate; the spotlight beamed on La Havas and she belted out, “When I waited for you there was no show/ Made myself believe the untrue, how could I not know/ I bet it seemed easier just to lie, but I found you out; this is my last goodbye…/ ’Cause you used to be my life and soul, keeping everything in tune/ What the heck, man? Last time I checked, man; we had it all—it was just me and you/ So what happened to you? Thought I knew you, no more chances I’m gone, gone, gone.”

Listeners relived the pain, the heartbreak, the “you’re going regret this you did this to me” feelings. Ultimately, though, the desire for love is unscathed, unfazed, because you know it just takes that one moment with that one person that will make you sing about love like you’re never been hurt. That’s the Lianne La Havas experience.

Because Nashville was the final show on her first U.S. tour and it was her first time in Music City, she gave us a little something extra by way of Dolly Parton’s “Bargain Store.” I must admit I’ve never heard the original by Ms. Parton, but La Havas made me fall in love with her acoustic version, crooning how life is “like a bargain store/ and I may have just what you’re looking for/ if you don’t mind the fact that all the merchandise is used/ with a little mending, it could be as good as new.” “Based on a true story, actually,” the artist revealed about “Age,” a love story about an older man in which her only request is that he does what he’s told.

As she hit the last note and strummed the last string on her guitar, the crowd went wild. La Havas stood coyly in the spotlight, seemingly in awe of the praises being shouted her way. She was a masterpiece to behold, and her background vocalists were nothing short of amazing; the harmonies were perfect. Lianne La Havas’ live performances and her album, Is Your Love Big Enough? has most definitely solidified her spot among the best of the best. With such pure talent as a “shinger, shongwriter, and guitarisht” (as listed on her Twitter page), she’s only just begun. I can’t wait for more. | Ashley White

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