Her debut album may not be scheduled for release until early next year, but judging by the stage presence and confidence displayed by Ella Eyre at Bristol’s O2 Academy you’d be inclined to think that she’s been headlining arena shows for years. Inevitably a lot of the material performed is not hugely familiar to the crowd, but it’s to her credit that she still manages to provide such an engaging and energetic set.
Opening track Worry About Me is the perfect example of why she works so well as a bona-fide pop star. It’s instantly infectious, and it perfectly shows off her powerful vocals. The old-school vibe of Time is even better, while the encore performance of Home is simply devastating. Ella doesn’t do a lot of downtempo – she’s very much so a bouncing around the stage in a leopard print catsuit sort of girl, but when she does slow things down it’s nothing short of captivating. Her reworking of We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off probably shouldn’t work on paper, but her almost soulfully venomous delivery of ‘I’m not a piece of meat, stimulate my brain’ makes it just right. Also on the setlist is Waiting All Night, the Rudimental collaboration that first brought her into the limelight, and it’s again a testimony to her star quality that Ella is able to personally connect with the track’s lyrics to make it suit her set, as opposed to it seeming like she shamelessly included it to please the casual fan. She essentially gives off the impression of being able to sing anything and make it look effortless.
The night’s highlight simply has to be current single Comeback. It gets one of the best crowd reactions we’ve witnessed in any concert this year, and the crowd’s repeated chanting of ‘so let that motherfucker burn’ in a live setting is nothing short of magical. Ella Eyre’s career may have only just started, but for pure energy alone she’s head and shoulders above many of her contemporaries. To put it simply, this is a girl who has all the potential to headline big festivals in a couple of years.
A special mention should go to Swedish-Gambian singer Seinabo Sey, who occupied the evening’s supporting slot, and gave an equally captivating performance. She barely said a word to the crowd (in a complete contrast to Ella’s playfulness and warmth), but it suits the music perfectly. There’s a brooding intensity to her vocal delivery, and most of the songs sound like long lost James Bond soundtracks. Drawing comparisons to other artists is nearly impossible; Seinabo has a blend of different cultures and influences to her music, making for an excellent sense of individuality. Whether this can translate to mainstream appeal is another matter, but if she’s this impressively atmospheric when supporting, a headlining show would surely be incredible.