Paloma Faith Charms Manchester with Eccentric Performance at Bridgewater Hall, Delighting Fans with Emotional and Humorous Concert

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Having followed the quirky, sometimes confident, often vulnerable, and completely eccentric Paloma Faith, it was a delight to see her perform so comfortably with her audience.

42-year-old Paloma looked and sounded every inch a pop star last night on stage at the stunning venue, Bridgewater Hall—home to the Hallé Orchestra. The sold-out gig was so popular that she recently added an extra night at this venue on her current tour. Paloma knows her audience well, commenting, ‘We are growing up and growing old together.’ She was hilarious and constantly chatted and bantered with the audience. Living in London, Paloma often highlighted the perceived differences between northern and southern folk during her performance, exclaiming, ‘I feel like an adopted Northerner as I align more with their attitudes and outlook on life’—further stating, ‘I love the northern vibe, community spirit, and friendliness.’ These statements only served to endear Paloma further to the audience.

Whilst I generally avoid clichés, this gig truly was a ‘game of two halves,’ a footballing cliché that perfectly describes the evening. Paloma informed the audience that she was ‘heartbroken, angry, frustrated, and in a completely selfish phase of her life.’ Paloma recently divorced her husband of five years after being together for over ten years and feels a ‘broken woman’ since the split, which has left her as a single parent to two young daughters. Although she joked that while a single parent, she is far from being on ‘the breadline’. She made jokes that clearly expressed her current raw feelings about how women, in general, and certainly she, in her case, have to be seen to ‘have it all’: being a career woman; be at the top of your chosen profession; be the ‘perfect’ mother; look and appear happy at all times without showing exhaustion all the while pandering to the males in your life and agreeing to their whims. This comment received rapturous applause. As with any artist, their current mood/situations serve to inspire their creativity. Paloma has undeniably and without apology used hers to write outstanding lyrics to wonderful melodies, that she hopes in her words, will be a future ‘cash cow’ for herself and her family.

The difference between the two halves of the concert before the 25-minute intermission was stark. Paloma initially appeared with long blonde straight hair in PVC looking exceptionally raunchy yet simultaneously demure. She strutted around in her high heels that, I have to admit, had me worried at times as the simple yet effective set design contained a long sloped platform. As she danced, I did worry that she might topple off the stage. Clearly, this occurred to Paloma too, as halfway through, she took off her shoes and enthusiastically danced around in bare feet. She was raw, highly emotional, and at one point fiercely angry, especially when she ‘spat out’ the lyrics to “Eat Shit and Die”.

Paloma joked that as a single parent, she had deliberately chosen to have an intermission to enable the audience to buy her merchandise. She also joked, in keeping with her previous comments of being in her ‘selfish phase’, that she decided not to have a support act and make it all about her, showcasing her ‘Glorification of Sadness’ album in the first half and coming back to the stage with her recent and old classics, thereby saving fees needing to be paid to other performers. This might seem rather self-indulgent; however, her expressive style of explanation simply made her seem like ‘the girl next door’ who was only doing what any of us would do, given her juxtaposed recent life experiences.

Before the end of the second half, Paloma invited an audience member up onto the stage, who she had met at a recent book signing. The audience thought he was going to sing when suddenly he explained how he and his partner adored Paloma, her music, her style, and everything she stands for, and after encouraging his reluctant partner to come up on the stage, he got down on one knee and proposed. The sold-out audience gave a rousing cheer after the proposal was accepted. Leaving the stage, Paloma quipped, ‘I hope your marriage lasts a lot longer than mine.’ It was light-hearted banter that made this concert feel like you were at a family occasion. Wonderful!

Wearing a black short wig and a full-length latex dress with a cut-out waist, Paloma burst onto the stage for her second half. She performed all her old classics, and the roof was truly raised. She constantly fiddled with the bra element of her dress, pulling it up and down as it moved around when she danced, and on numerous occasions, the audience saw more Paloma than I think she would have liked.

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