While Lord of the Dance made a static audience downstairs marvel at their straight-backed, regimented Terpsichore, Paris had her audience getting down and swinging its collective hips to a string of classics. Each to their own.
So many times the support fails to hold the audience – let’s face it everyone has come to see the headline – but Neil Yates and the Senate, plus singer Louise Pollock, proved to be a hidden gem.
Tight, note perfect and groovy, the standout moment was keyboard player John Ellis’s soulful rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Nobody’s Fault’. Truly moving. And a great prelude to the main event.
Slightly perturbed by the news Paris had been stuck in Oxford filming (she will appear on TV screens later this year and you must watch) it was a relief to see the trademark smile beaming from the mezzanine as we trooped outside for the interval smoke and jabber.
Back inside, confronted by a typically British audience reticent to even dance in their seats, the mighty Mica Paris set about redressing the scenario. She had made the effort, so why shouldn’t we?
“You look like rabbits in the headlights,” she said with a smile. “I’ve come here to Wales to party. Are you with me Wales?”
Eventually we admitted we were and by the time she had got to Breathe Life Into Me, she had breathed life into a static audience.
So much so, even yours truly was strutting his funky ‘dad dance’ in front of the stage.
It was a masterclass in stagecraft and holding a crowd in the palm of your hand.
By the time she belted out Young Soul Rebels and South of the River, as part of her medley of her hits, the place was rocking and we were sweating.
Note perfect, great pipes and a real stage presence, what shines through is her positivity. It’s infectious and, more importantly, the enthusiasm is genuine.
Raised south of the river in London, honed in the gospel factories of the baptist churches, she feeds off a happy vibe.
She will have been well sustained by last night’s reaction.
A bit of audience participation for Where Is The Love set the tone for a night where she wanted us to get what she was getting – the buzz, the feel-good factor. We did.
I’ll wager everyone in the audience will be back at Venue Cymru next time she is. You should make it your business to check her outstanding voice and bewitching stage presence for yourself.
They may have had Lord of the Dance downstairs but upstairs we trumped them with the Queen of Soul.