Review + Photography by John McEvoy

Like fine wine, some people seem to improve as they get older, having witnessed Neneh Cherry at the Stylus in Leeds, I can safely say that in this case this analogy seems rather apt.

Neneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

First up was London born singer Greentea Peng who with a DJ supplying the mellow beats delivered a soulful and original set. She cites her influences as Lauryn Hill and Finlay Quaye and elements of them do come through during her set. A combination of lo-fi, rumbly deep beats and an outstanding voice all combine to showcase a real talent who deserves exposure to a wider audience. On that basis I would urge you to check out her latest EP, ‘Sensi’.

Neneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

Swedish Neneh Cherry first came to our attention way back in the late 80’s with her worldwide tune ‘Buffalo Stance’ and with the release of her debut album ‘Raw Like Sushi’. Since then there have been 4 more albums culminating with her current release ‘Broken Politics’ released in October 18. Also in the intervening years Neneh has had children, is now a Grandmother, lived in Spain, New York, London and now Stockholm. Never a dull moment it would seem in the Cherry household, and so to tonight in Leeds which saw her kick off the first night of her tour on the back of her current album.

Understandably there did seem to be a small amount of first night nerves but they were quickly dispelled thanks in the main to what appeared to be a capacity crowd who warmly received her on stage.

Neneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

First up it was ‘Breakfast’ which opened with a hauntingly wonderful mellow build up from a ‘tongue drum’ (I think that’s the right word. Apologies if not!) and Harp. It’s clear that time hasn’t diminished Neneh Cherry’s vocals and ‘Fallen Leaves’ with its trancy bass, skiffle like drums and harp melody overlaid with her distinctive vocals was rapturously received by the knowledgeable crowd.

‘Shot Gun’ with its Massive Attack shuddery bass was further evidence that her new material is actually still on the money and gave the bass bins a good work out. When it became clear that ‘Faster than the Truth’ wasn’t quite going to plan it was good to see a headliner not afraid to stop proceedings, comment about the cock up and start the whole thing again. Needless to say, second time around it was delivered perfectly by band and singer/rapper.

Neneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

Neneh Cherry + Greentea PengNeneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

‘Natural Skin’ with its deep rolling swing beat was for me one of the highlights of the night, deftly delivered by a band and DJ who had the venue bouncing. Whilst much of this set was made of material from the new album, no Cherry set would be complete without some of her old classics and tonight was no different. ‘Manchild’ sounded as good as it did almost 30 years ago, and the encore was retro heaven with ‘7 seconds’ delivered including stand a band member delivering an outstanding delivery of Youssou N’Dours vocals. (Apologies to the band member, couldn’t get the name!) Naturally enough the evening was brought to a close with the timeless ‘Buffalo Stance’, which as any self-respecting old school B Boy know is Hip Hop heaven.

Time has been kind to Neneh Cherry, she clearly hasn’t lost any of her creative abilities, her voice is undiminished and she’s as passionate as ever which is always good to see. Her eclectic musical style is to be admired and in my opinion her current album is right up there as one of her best yet. I look forward to seeing what’s next for Neneh Cherry, the wine that keeps on getting better.

Neneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

Set list:

Breakfast
Fallen Leaves
Shot Gun
Deep Vein
Faster Than The Truth
Kong
Sync Dev
Natural Skin
Black Monday
Slow Release
Manchild
Soldier

Encore:

7 seconds
Buffalo Stance

Neneh Cherry + Greentea Peng

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