With her new album set for release this year, Alice Russell performed a dazzling set at The Roundhouse last week as part of their In The Round series.
Six years following the release of her acclaimed album, To Dust, soul singer Alice Russell returned to the stage with an intimate performance at the Roundhouse. Performing as part of ‘In The Round’, a now annual series of concerts at the iconic Camden venue, where artists play in the centre to a fully seated audience. This brought fans closer to the artist, with tiered seating ensuring every person in the packed, amphitheatre-like room could see Alice and she them. Her natural talent was riveting to watch, as was seeing her delight in being accompanied by a nine-piece band, which included five backing singers. Her band provided both shimmering vocal harmonies and tight, jazzy grooves, making the venue feel more like a New Orleans’ nightclub than somewhere in wintry, rainy London.
Aside from the illustrious setting, the gig was especially exciting for fans eager to hear songs from Alice’s upcoming album for the very first time. If Alice felt any pressure about this she didn’t show it, she spoke to fans like old friends and was completely at ease performing her new material. The slow build of ‘Agreement’ and vocal melodies of ‘Aquarius’ benefited from her singers, who encircled her on stage, all smiling as their harmonies filled the room. This was followed by ‘Rain’, which despite still having a working title, sounded as flawless as if it was a jazz standard the band had played for years. ‘Different’ and ‘Citizens’, fan favourites from To Dust, had the crowd singing along whilst melancholic new track ‘Gravity’ cautiously built before exploding into an electrifying violin solo.
The show became more dramatic with the slow, reverbed drums of ‘I Loved You’ before the extended piano solo of ‘Mirror Mirror’ had fans dancing along. Alice was at her most playful with this song from her debut album, having her singers continually belt out the uplifting refrain of “feel it!” into a raucous crescendo as enthralled fans joined in. With the crowd on their feet, ‘Sinner’, with its up-tempo, rolling drumbeat, kept them dancing as Alice left the stage before a very special encore. Joined only by the band, her powerful, solo vocals on ‘I Am’ reaffirmed why critics have lauded Alice Russell as one of the most remarkable vocalists of recent years. For her finale she performed a stripped back version of ‘Hurry On Now’, one of her most popular songs that every fan wanted to hear. It was worth the wait as, with only one guitarist and her vocalists, she gave a masterful performance that sent everyone home beaming.