Caro Emerald performing her The Shocking Miss Emerald Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Tuesday 21st October 2014

Images and review by Kevin Cooper

Although I have always quite liked what I have heard of Caro Emerald’s songs, I wasn’t expecting anything much more than easy listening and pleasantness at her show at The Royal Concert Hall last night. This is because she doesn’t have the rockability that Imelda May can generate or the tangy soulfulness of Amy Whitehouse but what she does have is a formula that is wildly successful, and the classically trained vocalist is an impressive, robust front woman.

Opening with the easy strut of I Belong To You, she was able to showcase her superb backing band. Throughout they deserved high praise, each of them stars in their own right; from the violinist to the trumpeter and saxophonist, who blew the audience away with their skilled performances, and particularly the guitarist who had the crowd enraptured with his high moody, atmospheric playing.

Caro does have some very cleverly crafted original songs in her arsenal, and in fact she has created a very successful formula out of her retro/soul genre, which is undoubtedly why her latest album shot to number one. Tonight wasn’t just about her borrowing sounds from yesteryear, although she had swing, tango, bossa nova, big band and Latin rhythm numbers, they were all augmented with thumping big beats to give an extra punch, contemporary keyboards for a modern undercurrent and the scratch DJ was a masterstroke, bringing an update to a familiar sound.

From her latest album, The Shocking Miss Emerald, and her debut album, the smash hit; Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor, she had plenty of tracks to choose from. There was an enjoyable Tangled Up, a sublimely arranged acoustic Riviera Life and breezy songs like Excuse My French and One Day. Her songs veered from the upbeat light hearted numbers like History Repeating, to the dark and mysterious ballads such as Black Valentine.

Liquid Lunch, a cautionary tale of how a day out with the girls can often end up with a mammoth hangover the following day, was always going to be a highlight, and sure enough, it brought the entire audience to their feet.

The encores were also a particular high point, with the impossibly infectious Back It Up. But for me Caro saved the best until last when she performed the classic Dream A Little Dream Of Me; a song she sang at school at the age of 11 and which made her realise that she wanted to be a singer.

Caro is an emotional singer with a beautifully pitched voice, and whilst she didn’t bounce across the stage, she nevertheless had wonderful presence and an ability to hold the audience. There is no doubt that hers is an original and unique talent. The shocking Miss Emerald really is a gem.