ELIZA – ‘A NEW ROMANTIC’ A review of pop-princess turned RNB/Soul goddess. 17.02.19
You may know ELIZA from her old pseudonym Eliza Doolittle, or from her flirtatious pop-songs ‘Pack Up’ and ‘Big When I Was Little’ back in the height of her mainstream career in the 2010’s. At the time, no Radio 1 Playlist was quite complete without the soft, summery melodies of a Doolittle single. Producing two UK top 40 hits and one top 5 single, the child star turned singer – songwriter we once knew couldn’t be any different from the woman who stood before me on the smokey, dim-lit stage at SCALA on a brisk February evening.
With a brand new look to match her sultry, RNB – soul influenced album ‘A New Romantic’ released last December, ELIZA well and truly epitomises modern reinvention. Opting now for the role of ‘the girl everybody wants to be’, more so than the previous role handed to her as ‘the girl next door’, the singer struts sexily on stage at her sold-out SCALA gig, welcomed by a roar of applause from the packed out venue of eager fans. Clad in a white ruffled corset – jumpsuit ensemble, she perfectly slips in into the slinky beat of ‘Game’, opening her hometown gig. Smoke machines on full blast, with the minimal instrumentals of only a bass guitar and drum kit - along with the soft harmonies of the background vocals, a perfect tone is set for the evening.
When performing ‘Loveable’, ELIZA sings some really soft, yet still impressive high notes, helped by her backing vocalists who harmonise in tandem in the background. The instrumentals still extremely minimal, creating a slow, smokey backing track. The whole crowd is moving along to the groove, ELIZA tells the crowd that this is exactly what she envisaged her shows would be like, saying all she wanted was people to “move all slinky” and slinky is definitely an accurate description of the mood felt.
The evening is very clearly all about love and interaction. “Is anybody here falling in love tonight?” ELIZA invites the crowd to “look at each other for a second; deep in the eyes” before going into ‘Putting Out The Fire’ and ‘Wide Eyed Fool’.
Messing around with operatic sounds and what seem like vocal warm-ups, the crowd begin to sing them back to her, with the singer collapsing into a heap of giggles and dimples at the spectacle she had created.
With the track ‘Livid’ being an ode to the intimacy and vulnerability involved with sex, it sees ELIZA describe making love with someone as a form of escapism from the outer world. It ultimately comes across as a beautiful interpretation of what sex should be. The more the set goes on, the more she gets in to her stride. At times prowling and patrolling the stage like a powerful lioness, ELIZA marks it as her own territory.
Next came ‘All Night’ – yet another ode to intimacy - where ELIZA asks the crowd to “turn up for this one” – with the jostling heads seeming to suggest that they are more than happy to oblige. The crowd sang and danced so hard that Eliza became emotional and worried that she wouldn’t be able to sing the next song, which was her last. Announcing that she would be in the studio tomorrow (Friday), to record new songs, she made it clear that the crowd made her feel so happy, and that they should bring this kind of energy wherever they go. With a few choreographed dance sequences throughout the set, although nothing too strenuous, each one was no doubt met with shouts and screams of affection from the crowd.
‘Alone & Unafraid’, her latest single - with the music video released only days before the gig itself - receives a fantastic reception. A symbiotic rapport between artist, band and audience, the deep, slow bass line manages to create a fantastically nocturnal atmosphere to match the dark and dingy architecture of the venue.
“You never met a girl like me before”, ELIZA sings during the final song of the night, ‘Wasn’t Looking’. Playing the part of a seductress, there isn’t a man she can’t have as she floats about the stage with a confident air of swagger. It was a treat of an R&B show, wrapped in mystique and seduction, ELIZA ultimately showed herself as a strong, inspiring female character. In conclusion, the singer-songwriter well and truly dazzled at her hometown debut. With her cheeky, innocent personality; almost childlike - despite her blatantly meaningful interpretations and thoughts on display as if an exhibition - there’s no doubt that only the surface of ELIZA’s capability as an artist has been shown.