Paul Smith – Kathryn Williams – 28th November 2018 – London Moth Club
Review and photos by Victoria Wai (Victoria Wai)
Let’s get the introductions over with. Paul Smith is probably best known as the lead singer of the band Maximo Park who does some of the best jumps on stage while dressed smart in suits and hats.
On this night at London’s Moth Club, he is Paul Smith, solo artist backed by The Intimations. Many of my music loving and gig going friends love Maximo Park and Paul Smith. Me? Well I’ve dipped into the music now and then, at the now defunct Split Festival and at the recent Great Exhibition Of The North with views of the back of a tug boat and collaborating with Rachel Unthank. The last night of the Diagrams tour would be my first full experience of Paul Smith with my full attention.
I was there with an open mind and unfamiliar with the back catalogue. This would be some night. This would be a night I could be very open and critical. On first thoughts what came to me was, “lucky he has Kathryn Williams supporting him.” He states in the show that he doesn’t like reading reviews as he has a photographic memory for insults. Don’t worry though, Paul Smith, I think this is one of the decent ones.
I have seen Williams a few times and she is simply captivating. Her strong set includes dedications to Sylvia Plath with songs from Hypoxia and a nod to Leonard Cohen before finishing with Little Black Numbers, where she entices us with the use of a loop pedal blending her harmonies.
The room soon filled ready for Paul Smith. There was competition for the front that there was even a scuffle of words for place to be right in front of Smith. It later ended with a hug! Then through the crowd members of The Intimations appear through the crowd followed by Smith. The silent room soon booms as he introduces, “we are Paul Smith and The New Intimations,” then straight into Public Eye, which is also the opening track to his latest album, Diagrams. We then delve into his first album Margins from 2010 with North Atlantic Drift. This seems to be the basis of the night. A celebration of where Smith started his solo career outside of Maximo Park to where he is now and with the backing of the trio that make up The Intimations for his latest outing with Diagrams.
I suspect that everyone in the room (except me) is familiar with how a Paul Smith show works. They are packed in tight smiling and mouthing lyrics back and engage in his storytelling. My eyes move from watching Smith to his band Tom, Nathalie and Andrew. I am fixed on the electricity on the stage, not just because I had a camera, I put that away many times because this was a great SHOW! I was drawn in every second. At times I took myself away from the front of the stage to stand to the sides and back to see the crowd but to be close up to such a charismatic performer had me taken that half the night I was up front.
The Moth Club stage is pretty small but Smith moved his smart shoes over every centimetre of it. Once you are in the grasp of Smith he keeps you there. He rewards us by bringing Kathryn Williams back to the stage as they duet on Beauty Contest and it in itself is sublime. We even get a few surprises from the album Contradictions with People On Sunday and Break Me Down.
High on energy The Intimations help Smith close with Silver Rabbit and we even get one of his famous jumps which I am told is a rare thing outside of the other band. How it was done on that stage without taking out Nathalie Stern to his right or the amps to his left is something but this IS Paul Smith. He even marks the occasion by bringing out a special guitar to match the Moth Club in its gold glory but the night is not done yet. We are now past the venue curfew and getting close to the times of the night bus service but the roar of the crowd keeps Smith on stage alone and the Maximo Park fans shout loudly for Unfamiliar Places and By The Monument gets a choral sing-along.
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