The lights always seem to shine a little brighter in New York City. Not to sound pompous or make it seem like we’re all a bunch of entitled New Yorkers, but when you get to experience a performance from an artist like Laura Mvula in the heart of midtown Manhattan with the beaming skyline and evening shadows of Central Park as your backdrop, it’s easy to feel somewhat comfortably entitled. After all, those who did catch her performance on Thursday night inside The Appel Room above Columbus Circle can certainly say they had a better night than most.
The British singer-songwriter was beaming as brightly as the city's luminescence that sparkled up and down Central Park South behind her for the evening, and she wasn’t afraid to share her warm and outgoing spirit with the audience at any point of the show.
“I tried to dress up like David Bowie,” she acknowledged early on while pointing to the Starman-esque facial artwork she was sporting for the evening. “Somebody once told me that I could have been the black Bowie, no? Well, maybe just me,” she said with a laugh amongst the supportive applause of her fans who packed the fancy Lincoln Center venue to see her.
Throughout her 17 song set, Mvula gracefully and powerfully performed songs from her most recent album, 2016’s Dreaming Room, while also mixing in some favorites off her Sing to the Moon LP. She certainly did her best to perform not only the audience, but apparently also for a special someone sitting in the audience.
“I have a Tinder date here, straight up,” she slyly admitted. “Times are hard. Should I not have just said that? It’s not very ladylike. Well I hope he’s here but if he’s not then obviously it’s over” she said with a huge grin amongst a sea of smiles before going into “Flying Without You.”
Whomever the young man in the audience was, he better have been impressed by how she poured her heart out during “Show Me Love,” a song which built like an orchestral score to reach its full potential as a masterpiece of a musical production.
Everything about her show and the experience of seeing her was a once-in-a-tour worthy performance. The eerily sounding organ/synth intro into “Bread” made you feel like you were in church, and the glistening buildings in the background acted as the evening’s deity with Mvula acting as their musical pastor, helping the sparkling sky come alive with every note. You just couldn't help but feel the psychedelic swell of her keytar on “Flying Without You,” which really gave the song its metaphorical wings as she directed its flight pattern with her voice.
Want to know what New York City in winter sounds and feels like? Embrace the moment when the enchanting, jingling piano opening to “Kiss My Feet” starts off with the city lights beaming behind the stage, and accept that there’s no more perfect way to end another day in the bustling metropolis.
Let Me Fall
Flying Without You
Sing to the Moon
Kiss My Feet
Show Me Love
Make Me Lovely
Be My Husband