Gig review: Madeleine Peyroux at Leeds Town Hall

Madeleine Peyroux at Leeds Town Hall. Picture: David HodgsonMadeleine Peyroux at Leeds Town Hall. Picture: David Hodgson
Madeleine Peyroux at Leeds Town Hall. Picture: David Hodgson
US jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux plied her trade in the Parisian Latin Quarter and brought all those years of singing and playing alongside the genre's finest musicians to Leeds' impressive Town Hall.

To extend the international feel to proceedings the gig was being streamed live to hospitalised children in Washington DC, Nottingham and Warsaw by charity Melodic Caring Project, Peyroux dedicating a couple of songs to them mid-set.

Her entrance onto stage had been typically low key, at times looking almost uncomfortable on the large stage despite the near sold out venue. It didn’t matter, her voice sails around the room filling every corner. Close your eyes and you’re in a smoky Parisian basement bar, Peyroux and her four piece band flitting from jazz, Americana to Leonard Cohen covers. A band which is of the highest, laidback quality.

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Taking tracks from her new album Anthem, the new songs have an almost pop or soul uplifting feel to them. Four tracks on the album, On My Own, Down On Me, Brand New Deal and Lullaby form the spine of the first half of the set, each track pushing the traditional jazz restrictions, displaying the influences from the musicians the artist recently collaborated with who in turn have a wide range of experience with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Peyroux’s hero, Leonard Cohen.

Sandwiching this part of the set was track La Javanaise, best known for its inclusion in Oscar winning film Shape of Water (during the woman/fish sex scene, much to Peyroux’s exasperation) and the two songs dedicated to the watching children, one of which, Honey Bee, prompted a half-hearted audience participation.

Madeleine Peyroux’s lyrical dexterity is prevalent throughout, as is her unnerving ability to effortlessly switch between musical styles. She never quite appears to get comfortable but that just seems to add to the affection felt by the crowd towards the singer, something that was reflected back through her engaging persona between songs.

Virtually dragged back on stage for an encore by the appreciative audience, Peyroux continued to push the jazz boundary by covering Billie Holiday’s Fun Out Of Life, first done on her album Dreamland, to complete an evening which left the Town Hall on its feet in acclaim.

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