It is always wonderful to see a performer truly enjoy her work, and nothing could have been more apparent last night as Kaz Simmons took to the stage at The Forge in Camden to celebrate the release of her third album, Dandelions.
The singer-songwriter’s beaming smile lit up the venue throughout her extensive set – which also featured a few covers from timeless greats such as Nina Simone and Dusty Springfield, as well as songs from her first two albums, Take Me Home and Different Smile – and I’m sure the vacant expressions on the faces of her exceptionally tight, ten-strong backing band were more a reflection of how hard they were having to concentrate than their thoughts on the music.
From hard-hitting, commercially viable pop songs such as Whatever and Dandelions, to sombre, heart-aching love ballads like Almost, Kaz’s music certainly has the ability to both delight and deeply affect an audience.
A lady in the front row was visibly moved to tears during one of Kaz’s typically heart-wrenching reflections upon a relationship lost in Almost, while the whole crowd were bouncing up and down in their seats to the fast-paced Spanish number, Taco, Taco, Taco.
As with all good gigs there was time for a few anecdotes, and the crowd was won over from the moment Kaz bemoaned the capital’s quirks, highlighting, as a girl who lives in Greenwich, the failures of the Jubilee Line, before revealing how she wrote a song about Vanessa Feltz’s sarcastic suggestion on BBC London (during the expenses scandal) that ‘it’s nice to wake up and find out what you paid for’.
The arrangements and execution of the songs themselves were faultless, with Kaz herself paying tribute to what she referred to as the ‘fantastic’ arrangements of double bass player Riaan Vosloo, who was almost single-handedly responsible for every arrangement on the new album.
Amongst others, Kaz and Riaan were backed superbly by talented pianist, Ivo Neame, and the intricate drumming of Tim Giles, who once engaged in a solo so long and splendiferous that Kaz and backing vocalist, Sara Mitra, could be seen rolling their eyes, while the audience began to wonder whether this was a scheduled part of the set – until the band regrouped with seamless precision.
This truly was a performance of high class and exquisite variation, while Kaz’s voice is pure, natural and seemingly effortless in its beauty and robustness. At the launch of this, her third album and the second to be released under her own label, it is a wonder that this gem remains still relatively hidden.
Dandelions is out now.
Kaz Simmons performed on Wednesday 1 June at:
3-7 Delancey Street
Tel: 020 7383 7808
For further information about Kaz Simmons and upcoming gigs, visit her website.