This review originally ran in The Herald Newspaper (Scotland)
What a difference a year makes. Last February, Neneh Cherry released Blank Project, her first solo album in almost two decades, and a stark record in title and in form that meditated on grief, love and loss.
Twelve months on, that LP’s dark and minimalist songs came brightly to life at this rare Glasgow show. The introspective, lost and disembodied became bolshy, animated and joyous, in no small part thanks to the live drums and electronica of Cherry’s backing duo RocketNumberNine, the industrial-tech overlords with whom she collaborated on Blank Project (alongside producer Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet).
Cherry has enlivened myriad musical guises since her days in Rip, Rig and Panic – stamping out the boundaries of jazz and punk, pop and rap, perpetually kicking off in unexplored sonic realms – but her on-stage persona is hearteningly consistent.
She remains as effervescent, magnetic and brassy as the pop star who hollered 1989’s Buffalo Stance, a song that was reinvented for a rapturous encore in Glasgow, all thundering drums and plunging bass and the ghosts of chart-topping melodies past. 1989’s Manchild was similarly re-tooled, but the set was largely focused on Blank Project, with highlights including Cynical, Dossier and the title track, whose renderings were variously depth-charged, banging and delirious.
Weightless was anything but, Everything was exactly that, Out Of The Black’s cautious optimism was a revelation, and the entire show had the sold-out crowd beaming, as women yelled thanks for a brilliant role model, and men high-fived thin air while hugging each other, and Cherry thrilled in a kilt, medallion, regulation box-fresh trainers, a customised neon Save The NHS t-shirt, her grin like a beacon. She lights up the dark.
Related articles: Neneh Cherry interview (The Herald, January 2015)