Clerkenwell, London isn't a district famed for its music scene, but The Slaughtered Lamb is beginning to change that with it's little basement music lounge full of candle-lit table-a-deux. The freshly built stage is to be graced by the amazingly talented Karima Francis tonight, but not before two excellent supports.
First up is Shaunagh Duncan who's country tinged vocals and folk styled guitar flows through the room like gloss. She builds a rapport with the crowd effortlessly and plays through her own material as well as covering the likes of Bruce Springsteen. Next, Bournemouth's Charlie Hole brings his thoughtful and witty songs to the stage along with his natural charisma, he has the audience laughing and listening intently and closing with a storming number that leaves us thoroughly warmed up for the headliner.
When Karima takes to the stage the audience offer a grand applause. From the outset she is mesmerising and soulful, her vocals cutting through the audience like a knife. After a couple of songs she talks about how she writes songs in batches during periods of despair and asks if it's big headed to have a favourite of her own songs. The crowd assure her it isn't before she moves on with the set. She stops to engage with the audience every couple of numbers, telling us a bit about the songs and making a few jokes about her fitness being no better in spite of lugging all her kit around on the tour.
The set goes smoothly aside an awkward request from a drunken super-fan to play a song from moons ago that Karima can't remember. After asking her jovially not to look at her with a sad face remarking "when my cat looks at me like that I over-feed her", "I'm a sensitive soul!".
She gives thanks to the Promoter (Ina from Tigmus) and to all those who contributed to her pledge campaign to raise funds for a new record and apologises that she will have to run for her train quickly after the set heading for Brighton, the next date on the tour.
Throughout she mixes the set up with tracks old and new but "Remedy" and the emotional "It's Alright Now" (to which Karima admits she keeps welling up) particularly stand out, showing off her incredible vocal range and ability to break her voice at will. It makes for a raw and almost harrowing set. While Karima may have had some set-backs with her career in the last few years, if she keeps this kind of performance up she'll be back in the limelight in no time.