Following Anaïs Mitchell’s outstanding performance at this years’ “In the Round” festival; Beverley Knight played out “In the Round” spectacularly. As part of a ten-piece band consisting of herself and a brass section and backing singers; the audience was not given a moment to question if Beverley still had The B-Funk.
Prior to Knight’s performance, support came from Amahla whose songs covered topics including social media, politics, relationships and dementia to her soothing, ethereal vocal range (complimenting both Billie Holliday and Corinne Bailey Rae). Having already released her debut EP ‘Consider This’; 2020 is likely to be the year this artist steps into the limelight.
Beverley’s success as a recording artist is impressive both in longevity (twenty-five years since she released her debut LP) and with a combined total of fourteen top twenty singles and albums. Beverley, therefore, has more than enough material for a complete live show. Not only did Beverley play her hits; she played a motley of covers as well a musical numbers from shows she has performed in including Cats and The Bodyguard.
Despite now being in her late forties; Knight looks barely a day older than thirty. Slim, petite and with a voice that continues to peak; the Roundhouse jovially stood to attention clapping and dancing to the rhythm of “Made it Back”. Whether it is down to Knight’s experience of playing lead roles in theatre productions; Beverley’s choreography offered something extra. Every movement allowed the listener to appropriately experience the emotions of a particular lyric within a song. There was no second-guessing; these experiences were collectively unison at the Roundhouse.
The choice of covers Knight played sparked much curiosity. The artists ranged from Robyn, Prince to Whitney Houston. Does Knight deserve to be compared to Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder and Erma Franklin? Based on her performance to the intimate seated crowd (who were too galvanised to sit down); she does. “I Have Nothing”, “Lately” and “Piece of my Heart” mirrored the original artist's interpretations during their peaks.
As well as Beverley demonstrating her ability to step outside her own solo material and performing covers to a world-class level; the Roundhouse was also reminded why they fell in love with Knight initially and why her hits which include: “Shoulda Woulda Coulda”, “Greatest Day”, “Get Up!” and “Come as You Are”. Played live, it was evident these songs were not just great back in the nineties and early noughties, but each song sounds just as fresh today and remains part of the zeitgeist.
Knight has had much success throughout her career from receiving an MBE to opening for Prince; yet despite this, much of Knight’s appeal is her ethereal humbleness. Whilst displaying adroit sophistication; her broad Wolverhampton accent aids her ability to interact with intimate, seated audiences. It is a combination of humility (through various, diverse causes she supports) and Beverley’s continued ability to grow as a diverse artist (thereby evolving her B-Funk) that puts her on the same playing field as Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder and Erma Franklin. Knight’s performance is likely to contribute to the continued growing interest in the “In the Round” festival next year.