“We can all say whatever the fuck we want” shouts musical icon Neneh Cherry to the adoring crowd, midway through a blistering set at Leeds University Stylus.
Now at 54, Cherry continues to prove herself as one of the most exciting and dynamic artists around. Following the 2018 release of her appropriately titled album Broken Politics, Leeds welcomed the legendary performer on the first night of her UK tour.
Looking insanely cool in an Adidas jumpsuit, Cherry entered the stage to the ethereal sound of a hang drum and the applause of the audience. Cherry then placed her iPhone to the mic, beaming out the café background noise that forms ‘Cheap Breakfast Special’, the first song from her new album. This track seamlessly slipped into the celestial harp of ‘Fallen Leaves’, another stunning offering from Broken Politics. The album was produced in collaboration with electronic artist Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) and co-written by her husband Cameron McVey who was also on stage as part of her excellent band.
The sublime performance of ‘Black Monday’ was a highlight of the evening as Cherry explained how it was written out of respect to a pro-abortion demonstration in Poland of the same name. This moment was a refreshing reminder of the existence of artists who use music as a nuanced response to politics.
Despite the setlist consisting mostly of new songs, Cherry treated the crowd to some classics from her impressive back catalogue. Amongst these were of course the 1989 hit ‘Manchild’ and a live interpretation of ‘7 Seconds’, featuring vocals by husband McVey. This was all before sending the crowd wild with the performance of her worldwide hit ‘Buffalo Stance’. Cherry then discarded the microphone and finished the show by dancing along to the incessant chants of “no moneyman can win my love”. This was the perfect celebratory end to a fantastic gig by an artist who just keeps getting better.
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