Plenty has been written in the past about Charlotte Church and her reinvention, to the point where its surely not relevant anymore. Perhaps it's time (as Charlotte has done) to move on and focus on the artist she is today. Following a successful London show, Charlotte is on home turf tonight to promote the fourth of five self-released EPs handily titled 'Four'.
The title (as in the previous 3 EPs) suggests no pretence other than to take the music as is, without preconception or explanation.
Cardiff has numerous live music venues, and I have been to all of them, despite this I had never heard of 'Unit 31'. So I am intrigued as I make my way through an Industrial Estate looking for "the venue". I pass various warehouses, food packaging places and storage units wondering if I'm actually going to the right place. However as I approach Unit 31 all becomes clear. It's neither a meat processing plant, nor music venue but actually a TV/Film studio. The gig hasn't even started yet and already things are getting interesting! So what I wonder has Ms Church in store for us tonight?
Upon entering the studio, the (sizable) crowd are given face paint and are requested to wear it for the duration of the show. There is a palpable buzz in the air tonight. As I survey these newly painted faces, I notice the sheer diversity of the audience. I don't think there is a 'typical' Charlotte Church fan.
Before the show starts, we are informed that tonight is a special recording of Charlotte's show 'Entanglement' which is to be televised later in the year. We are also told to expect two sets. It's not long before Charlotte and her band take to the stage. Dressed in a jumpsuit, barefoot and covered in neon face paint, Charlotte looks relaxed and confident. Her band (including two drummers) have the task of reproducing live all the intricacies of Charlotte's eclectic sound. Perhaps best described as electronica intertwined with flash's of guitar rock and beautiful vocal melodies; I'm reminded of Portishead and Goldfrapp. If I were to describe it in terms of places; I find myself transported from a blissed out Ibiza, via a raucous Dublin and ending up in Studio 52, New York during Disco! Such is the sheer range of feelings and emotions Charlotte effortlessly evokes from her music here tonight.
As the first set draws to a close, we are ushered into the bar as we await the studio to be prepared for the final half. 20 Minutes later we are back inside and witness a transformation. Gone is the jumpsuit and neon, replaced by a fresh faced Charlotte in a very earthy and almost 'organic' dress. Charlotte is also joined by a choir which fills the back of the stage. The theme for the evening continues with Charlotte (now with an added runway platform jetting out into the crowd) becomes more at one with the audience, creating an intimate space.
This manifests itself further as rope lights fashioned like tentacles, are fed out to the audience from the platform at Charlotte's feet. At this moment the audience and Charlotte are one, sharing a truly interactive experience.
Charlotte appears genuinely touched by the crowd tonight who have hung on her every note throughout. I can't remember the last time I was at a show (particularly during the quieter, slower moments) when someone wasn't chatting loudly!
Tonight she has everyone's full and undivided attention; and that's exactly how it should be.