Karima Francis – live review

Karima Francis
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
Friday 14th October 2011

Karima Francis is on of the UK’s most talented singer-songwriter’s. She’s been working hard since the beginning of September to get people interested in her work yet again. As she’s finished recording her second album with legendary producer, Flood, she’s more passionate about her new material as she ever has been, and has found this tour her opportunity to promote this prior to its release. She returns to what was once her hometown of Manchester, as her tour comes to a close, to let Manchester know that something special is about to happen in the world of Karima Francis.

With threats of cancellation on the morning of the event due to illness and loss of voice, no one really knew what to expect from Francis. I’d seen her on her tour previously and knew she had the drive and determination not to cancel anything if it meant something to her fans. The only question to be asked of the night was, could she sing?

Tonight, she played tremendously at The Ruby Lounge. She’s well known for silencing crowds, but tonight, the crowd were a little more lively than usual. What could be sure was that as soon as she played the opening chords to show opener, ”ËœArrest You’ the volume in the room was turned down to mute. The most wonderful thing about seeing Karima play is witnessing the emotion on stage laid bare in complete silence, and then as soon as it’s over, you hear the most incredible roar of admiration from the crowd. This is such a contrast in between songs as even she looks surprised when the audience reacts in such a way.

Struggling, she still battles through, and tackled some of her songs in different manners where she would have struggled vocally. For most this worked to her advantage, with her doing a different and more raw takes on songs such as ”ËœFrancis’ and ”ËœThe Author’. Even on the high notes, where her voice strained a little, it worked to her advantage. Francis tells you things how it is, and if she’s not well, she’ll present that on stage and twist it around to create a truly moving and harrowing performance from an artist that will continue to do so over the length of her career.

Tonight Karima Francis was under the lights, naked, exposed. As always, she managed to hit people where it hurts and she’ll continue to break the hearts of many as she journeys towards the peak of the mountain she’s trying so very hard to conquer. On the track ”ËœGood, Bad and Ugly’ she stripped down her usually prominent voice to give us a delicate, warming melody so simple but beautiful to hear. It seems as if on her latest material, she knows exactly what will work for her.

Her new tracks have an obvious maturity and depth that seem to set themselves apart from her debut album. She’s grown as a person and as an artist, and through life experience, she’s giving us her heartbreaking story through song. She’s a truly legitimate artist who sings only of honesty, and it takes a singer with confidence to be so open with herself in that sense.

She had worked hard all day to get her voice back, and she seemed as on form as ever, belting out new songs of which she could really highlight the extraordinary range her voice can hit. She stuns crowds, and that’s what makes her rare and unique. I certainly have never seen an artist able to stand up there and tell her stories so explicitly in order to express her art towards a crowd for a live performance. She’s up there with the greats, the one-offs, it’s just a matter of time before she breaks through the barrier.

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Manchester-based writer and promoter. Currently putting on gigs for Glass Onion. Contact me at joshnicol@live.co.uk. Follow me at @JDNicol.


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