Alison Moyet – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Sunday October 27
Originally written for the Nottingham Post.
Surfing on the success of her highest-charting album since 1987, Alison Moyet has never seemed so at ease with herself. Having shed her old skin – figuratively and literally – she has re-emerged, six years after her last release, as a determinedly bold and uncompromising artist, showcasing a remarkably strong new collection of electronic-based material.
Banishing all traces of her jazz and blues influences, and stepping firmly away from the middle of the road, Alison’s current tour has picked up where 2008’s Yazoo reunion left off. Backed by two knob-twiddling synth players, who occasionally picked up the odd guitar or two, she offered a sound that was fully contemporary, without falling into the trap of merely chasing trends.
The new songs were dovetailed with electronically reworked versions of older singles – some hits, some more obscure – “so that I don’t end up being my own tribute act”. Although none of the back catalogue choices dated from beyond the mid-Nineties, they blended seamlessly with the 2013 material, giving us a fresh perspective on Alison’s body of work.
Four Yazoo tracks peppered the set list, ranging from a faithfully rendered Nobody’s Diary to a radically altered Only You, which successfully pitted the original melody against a minor-key arrangement. If you want the original, stay at home and listen to the record, she told us. “It’s so much cheaper! Otherwise, you’ll get what you are given.”
Such was Alison’s confidence, that two botched starts on one new song could be shrugged off with cheery laughter. (“That’s the first time this has happened, and I’ve been touring for two months. This set is going to be long, I can feel it!”) Reciting the forgotten line over and over again – “the shift of air, the turn of page” – she launched back into the track, ironically titled Remind Yourself. As the lyrical hurdle was finally vaulted, her persistence was rewarded by a nice big cheer.
Elsewhere, A Place To Stay nudged towards London Grammar territory, current single Changeling rubbed shoulders with dubstep, and Right As Rain bore a whiff of stripped-down electro-house. Of the older songs, the beats were removed from Ordinary Girl and Is This Love, highlighting the songcraft beneath, while All Cried Out and Love Resurrection were reinvigorated by a more pronounced sense of rhythm.
On the torchier tracks, most notably on a smouldering version of This House, Alison was captivatingly intense, drawing our full attention to her impassioned delivery. At other times, she brandished her mike stand and rocked out as never before, cutting an almost Bowie-esque figure. Towards the end of the show, as more dance-based elements came to the forefront, she shimmied and twitched with pleasing abandon, revealing herself as quite the nifty mover.
All of these incarnations – the balladeer, the rocker, the dance diva – were made all the more credible by her utter sincerity as a performer, and by the absence of anything resembling a stage persona. For after more than thirty years in the business, Alison Moyet seems more fully herself than ever before – and that’s a wonderful thing to witness.
Set list: Horizon Flame, Nobody’s Diary, When I Was Your Girl, Ordinary Girl, Remind Yourself, Is This Love, Filigree, Falling, A Place to Stay, Only You, Apple Kisses, Changeling, This House, All Signs Of Life, Right as Rain, Love Resurrection, Situation, Whispering Your Name, All Cried Out, Don’t Go.