Caro Emerald at Milton Keynes Theatre – Live Music Review

On her return to the MK Theatre, Caro Emerald treated the crowd to a delightful evening filled with tropical jazz grooves.

Photo taken by Andreas Lawen

As part of a long return tour of the UK, it was a fine performance from Dutch singer Emerald, whose previous albums have proven to be UK hits with a platinum-certified debut and number one follow-up.

The tour schedule has continued since the release of last year’s Emerald Island EP ahead of a release of forthcoming third studio LP, and will later feature the singer’s 100th UK show at the Jazz Café in London, plus a further London concert at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, and all part of a busy autumn that includes a show at the AFAS Live venue in Amsterdam.

Last Tuesday, and a few nights into the UK tour, Emerald’s roadshow sees the singer and her 7-piece backing band roll into the Milton Keynes Theatre, just over a year after her last performance at the venue.

But before Emerald performed, there was a delightful opening act from singer-songwriter Loren Nine, who performed with a just an impressive voice and a piano. She got the crowd engaged with a nimble of set of piano heartbreakers, and even the odd pithy one-liner in banter with the crowd, and left with an enthusiastic applause. Late in the set number Cherry Stains was a particular delight.

After the changeover, the headline act’s mood was set rather nicely by concert opener Riviera Life, as Caro and the band enter the stage and perform the song’s lush tropical-inspired grooves accompanied by 50s and 60s-style film poster videos on the back.

The instrument-swapping band provided a fine backdrop for Emerald to bring plenty of impressive tongue-twisting vocals, which tell impressive tales over the top of the lyrics. The sprightly Tangled Up, which is dispatched early on, provided a particularly delightful number, while Tahitian Skies brings an almost other-worldly quality to the usual sound.

As well as what could be expected, there were plenty of variations on display, with solid jazz grooves and tracks that show a Latin inspiration. One notable example of the tropical vibes this new sound provides came for the wiry delight of My 2 Cents, which comes with added Cuban guitar.

Indeed, such versatility shows off nicely the work of the band in chopping and changing through the various styles across various instruments. The song’s outro with duelling brass and percussion is also delightful. It was also followed up with a lovely subtle moment when just Caro’s voice and a sole electric guitar are deployed for a solitary song, providing a refreshing and pleasantly sparse interlude.

That song also careers very nicely into a following up-tempo jazz break instrumental, and as it is noted the bulk of the crowd has been yet to truly embrace the use of their dancing shoes, the main set wraps up wraps up with some up-tempo tunes that get the crowd moving along nicely.

The punchy, groovy delights of Excuse My French and new track Wake Up Romeo are pleasant delights. It then gives way to an impressively worked take on the pop song Havana that holds up the attention nicely.

The one-two punch of Liquid Lunch and That Man brings the curtain down on the main set in style. With impressive jazzy hooks and grooves, its a pairing that brings the crowds to their feet and dancing at the top of a hat. Furthermore, it also helps that its a top notch pair of tracks.

An encore of tracks from the debut album then round things off, with the sprightly A Night Like This – and accompanying singalongs – making for a delightful conclusion to the evening’s entertainment.

All in all, the Caro Emerald live experience in 2018 is an extremely delightful one. With plenty of expertly worked jazzy grooves, additional Latin-inspired tracks, and fine performances from all involved, the show ultimately adds up to a well put-together evening’s performance that adds up to a concert tour worth catching.

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