Anne-Marie made a name for herself singing with Rudimental, famously featuring alongside Dizzee Rascal, and next appearing solo on SBTV. She’s trying to carve out a place for herself on the music scene – and it seems like she’s not doing a bad job.
The turnout is certainly good for a Sunday evening, and the crowd is quite diverse: among the mostly twenty-somethings are interspersed some parents with their under-18s, but to her credit, everybody looks happy to be here, and most of the crowd are guarding their spaces near the stage for a long while before she steps out.
It’s not a little surprising, given Anne-Marie’s heavily produced recorded material, and the absence of a band from her music videos, that she’s followed by a full band when she jumps onstage. Not only that, but they come out strong: there may be no question that it’s all about Anne-Marie, but the band pull no punches and are respectable musicians in their own right. The drummer in particular adds flavour to the sound, playing a hybrid electro-acoustic kit with some teeth-chattering bass samples.
Her sound lies somewhere between modern R’n’B and soul, making heavy use of electronica, with a sprinkling of the straightforward catchiness of chart pop. Her style and persona are quite urban and in-your-face, in a fun and bubbly kind of way. The music that comes out of this peculiar combination is quite unusual, but it has to be said there’s not much innovation going on here. Then again, maybe that’s not the point – her music has a very wide appeal: it may be unchallenging, but the whole crowd dances happily along.
Most are charmed by Anne-Marie’s chatty interactions between songs, and almost hysterical laugh. She actually spots several long-term fans in the crowd from other concerts and calls them out by name – it’s a level of care for her fans that is really touching. Her rapport with the crowd is funny and unconventional; much is made of her light-up sneakers, and she throws a box of chocolates out to the crowd. Her antics verge on being a distraction from what is already a very short set, but on the whole she comes across as a lovable personality.
Her big hits go down predictably well, especially the new single ‘Do It Right’. There’s one song towards the end of the set where all the band, except for the keys, leave the stage. For five minutes, all the surrounding production is stripped away, along with all the posturing that had gone hand in hand with Anne-Marie’s performance. This is the highlight of the set, because it reveals that her voice, when she really sings, is exquisite.
The crowd erupts after this song, but it’s hard to tell if they share the sense of disappointment that more of her set isn’t like this. With her band behind her, she’s a good entertainer and knows instinctively how to show the crowd a good time. Nonetheless, she gives the impression that, if she were to put her mind to it, she could do better, and has a voice capable of making songs both more enduring and more striking than her current material.
The Haunt, Sunday 31st January 2016
Words by Ben Noble
Photos by Gili Dailes