LIV Warfield live is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry. With a formidable voice (think Emeli Sande, think a little bit of Grace Jones) and a powerful stage presence, the American singer was born to entertain. And boy does she know how to perform. Raw energy drips from the stage.
At Pizza Express Live (Holborn) on Sunday (July 28), Warfield demonstrated her formidableness as she sung her way through a number of her best known songs – the forceful Freedom, the haunting and emotional The Unexpected, Embrace Me (the title of her first album in 2006) and Why Do You Lie? Shut your eyes to Don’t Say Much (taken from 2014 album The Unexpected) and you would think you were listening to Sande.
Yet it was a performance with challenges to overcome. For a start, half of her band didn’t turn up until three quarters through the set – a result of a delayed flight. When they arrived, they immediately infused the show with a thumping pulse previously missing – and some exquisite and tender backing vocals.
Their delay also part-explained why Adrian Crutchfield was sent out earlier to start the show and display his mastery of the saxophone and quirky EWI (electronic wind instrument). Like Warfield, Crutchfield – who also plays the flute quite magnificently – performed and recorded with the late great Prince.
An army of raucous Warfield fans, quite happy to talk throughout her performance, ratcheted up the atmosphere in the tight surroundings of Pizza Express Live (Holborn), although she seemed to enjoy their occasional interruptions, enthusiastic support and kind offers of whisky (taken up). By the end, most of the audience were up off their feet as Warfield tested Pizza Express Live’s permitted licensing hours to the limit – and the bass thumped its way down High Holborn.
An entertaining night on so many levels. Let’s hope the performer par excellence delivers on her promise to issue a live album next year. Worth waiting for judging on this dynamic and pulsating show.