A WHIRLWIND hit Ronnie Scott’s fabulous Jazz Club on Tuesday night (January 25). It struck twice and it sent those who experienced it – just once, not twice – into a near state of delirium.
The whirlwind was the thrilling and inexhaustible Mica Paris who for 90 minutes – twice over – managed to whip the sell-out audience into something approaching a frenzy as she enticed them with an intoxicating mix of soul, gospel, reggae and funk.
They responded by taking to the aisles and dancing as if they were teenagers again. Grown men wept at her breath-taking performance. Ronnie’s hasn’t seen anything quite like it for a while. Certainly not since lockdown put a spanner in the keyboards. Bold, brassy, barnstorming and ballsy. Scintillating. Sensational. You get the picture.
Mica, awarded an MBE in 2020, is a formidable force live. Dressed to kill in thigh length boots and wearing black gloves, a black dress, bright red lipstick, daring eyelashes and big hair, she engages the audience right from the word go.
‘Are you with me Ronnie’s,’ she asks as she belts out a cracking opener Like Dreamers Do. ‘I just want to love you tonight.’ Five minutes in and the audience are already hand-clapping to the rhythm. She’s won over the middle class throngs before they’ve even consumed their first scallop and swallowed their first mouthful of Viognier. They’re hooked on Mica Paris. She’s on fire. They know they are in for a firecracker of a night.
Mica is relentless as she whips herself into the whirlwind that will propel her through the two shows. She perspires, constantly towelling down her face, and cajoles her band to greater heights. It’s non-stop and it’s infectious. Shades of Donna Summer – love to love you baby.
Where Is The Love she demands. Breathe Life Into Me she urges. She then gets a little emotional as she sings a song dedicated to her Grandmother – Mama Said. ‘Don’t you know your darkest hour is only sixty minutes long and tomorrow is on its way.’
Labi Siffre’s So Strong is tear jerking – ‘are you feeling it?’ questions Mica. The answer is a universal yes. ‘Are you with me Ronnie’s?’ she enquires (again). She knows the answer before she’s finished the question. It’s intimate. It’s all rather mind-blowing.
There’s funk – a lovely cover of Stay – and a soulful Whisper A Prayer. An off the cuff Amazing Grace is followed by a piano infused I Put A Spell On You. The songs keep coming – I Want To Hold Onto You and the finale: the song that launched her singing career back in 1988: My One Temptation.
Everyone gets on their feet, dancing in the aisles. It is like the days before Covid – when ordinary people partied in London until the early hours.
Mica Paris is a force of nature. Passionate and a joy to behold. Someone who knows how to entertain and spread love.
Utterly compelling. Utterly brilliant. Utterly passionate.
Mica is touring with Simply Red next month. What a combination.
For those of you who prefer your music in the intimacy of your home, Gospel (2020) is well worth downloading. As is Motown With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (A Symphony Of Soul). Mica’s What Becomes Of The Broken-hearted (sung with Jimmy Ruffin) is one of eleven knockout tracks.
Finally, Ronnie Scott’s is currently running a musical instrument amnesty – enabling people to hand in instruments they no longer use. Ronnie’s will then send them on to schools either in the UK or overseas so that children can get an opportunity to learn to play. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org