Partying with Paloma

Can a gorgeous, young, successful, talented redheaded gal from London really sing the blues, asks Candia McKormack

Partying with Paloma

Can a gorgeous, young, successful, talented redheaded gal from London really sing the blues, asks Candia McKormack

I’ve been a fan of Billie Holiday’s music from a very early age. There’s something incredibly life-affirming about pure, unadulterated despair. And when sung with the cracked voice of a black woman living through racial segregation, addicted to hard drugs and with a string of lost loves, misery goes to a whole new level.

So, what makes an attractive 24-year-old East London redhead think she can deliver Billie-style angst?

I’m talking, of course, about Paloma Faith. She’s causing something of a stir in pop and jazz circles with huge hits such as ‘Stone Cold Sober’ and ‘New York’ and, surprisingly, does misery rather well.

After a delicious meal at The Daffodil restaurant where we were treated to Paloma Pavlova (a suitably quirky and divine dessert created for the lady herself), I went along to the last night of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival where Paloma was singing with the backing of Guy Barker’s super-cool 42-piece orchestra at the Town Hall. The title of the evening’s entertainment was ‘Down at the End of Lonely Street’, and was a goosebump-inducing journey through the dizzy heights of new love affairs to the depths of heartache and unrequited love. It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions where Paloma’s gorgeous voice soared above the fabulously talented orchestra.

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The concert overshot considerably when we simply wouldn’t let Paloma et al leave the stage (the jazz-loving genteel folk of Cheltenham got proper let-your-hair-down rowdy: wolf-whistling, whooping, stamping on the floor), but there was still time to head on down to the warmly inviting Royal Well Tavern for the aftershow party.

And what an aftershow party! The drink was flowing, there were some of the most delicious canap�s I have ever tasted (devils on horseback and dinky little skewered burgers), the company was fabulous… and Paloma graced us with her presence too.

A perfect evening. Thank you, Cheltenham, and the Festivals crew, for getting it all so right… and for the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages!

Listen to the Radio 2 recording here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00s7mmj

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