Monday, November 06, 2023

Beverley Knight Brings It Home To Birmingham

Birmingham’s Symphony Hall was full to capacity to welcome British soul sensation Beverley Knight’s homecoming. Born in nearby Wolverhampton, Knight staged a dazzling performance which was an emotional reunion, not only for the 2,000 fans but also because many of her family and lifelong friends were in the audience too.

 Frequently referring to her love for her Black Country roots, there was an extra buzz of excitement in the air for this special night.

Her ‘50’ tour celebrates both her 50th year and the release of her latest studio album, ‘The Fifth Chapter’, so the set showcased both her impressive musical history as well as some new releases.

The evening got off to a spellbinding start with American singer-songwriter Casey McQuillen treating the audience to some beautiful song choices and entertaining stories which also touched a few nerves. DJ Munro followed up with a selection of 70s and 80s dancefloor fillers to get the audience in the mood, telling the audience that Beverley expected them to sing along, dance and enjoy themselves. This was shaping up to be far more than a concert.

After an interval, Knight’s eight piece band made the way to the stage - no backing tracks for this seasoned soul star who has performed all over the world as well as at private events for the Prime Minister and for Prince. The whole show overflowed with a bubbling, joyful sense of fun and excitement. It was obvious that she was loving every minute of it.

Opening with the upbeat ‘Greatest Day’, Knight strutted out sporting a skintight black and white jumpsuit, owning the stage and the whole Symphony Hall with a confidence that would put Beyonce to shame. Channelling her musical influences of Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, Knight flew through twenty songs with only the briefest pauses to talk to the audience, change outfits or switch the mood down to a more intimate style with her band gathering round her at the front of the stage, swapping to acoustic instruments and creating a cosy jazz club which was in part a tribute to her late musical director, Paul Reid who passed away in 2020.

The variety of song choices kept the audience on the edge of their seats - or mostly on their feet. ‘Sista Sista’ was dedicated to one of Knight’s school friends and the iconic ‘Shoulda Woulda Coulda’ had everyone singing along, showing that British soul holds its own on the international stage.

The main set ended with Knight’s highest charting UK single, ‘Come As You Are’ but the show wasn’t over yet - after a break just long enough for a change of outfits, Knight and the band came back for a roaring finish of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’, Prince’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ and ‘Everything’s Gonna be Alright’. The mood in the Symphony Hall was nothing short of euphoric, a broad range of cultures, ages and backgrounds unified by a thoroughly entertaining, energising and uplifting show.

The tour is mostly sold out and so new dates have been added in 2024. Anyone lucky enough to see the ‘50’ tour will certainly be guaranteed a Knight to remember.

Peter Freeth



Images: Peter Freeth

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