Review & Photos: G. Rossington.
When people have been camping outside the venue waiting for the doors to open, this is usually the sign of a good show is set to take place. Within minutes of the doors opening, the venue tonight is pretty packed. Either the Academy Security have taken a swift lesson in how to effectively search concert-goers, or the fact that the majority are at the younger end of the spectrum and not carrying bags and keys as much could be the reason.
For the early arrivals, the first of two supports tonight opens proceedings, Henry Moodie is the first to go. The problem with the TikTok Generation is that the majority of those claiming their 15 minutes of fame are instantly forgettable. Henry seemed like a nice guy, but the majority of his set was a mix of dull tunes played on a keyboard, or covers. He even drags his tour manager out to play guitar to a cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’ which is probably his biggest pleaser of the night and lets the audience do the most of the work.
Next us is the main tour support, Blake Rose. Again, another internet star who has got lucky being on such a high profile tour. Granted he has his own songs to boot, but the likes of ‘Rollerblades’, ‘Dizzy’ and ‘Demon’ just fail to hit the mark. The young crowd are enjoying it though, and lets be honest, when we were all that age, we enjoyed just being at a concert full stop. Blake has a slightly stronger voice and charm than Henry Moodie did, but he comes across as an unhealthy and poor tribute to both Toploader and The Feeling. He finishes his set on a chilled out and downbeat track that seems like such an odd choice to leave the audience “warmed up” for the main act.
Maybe the lackluster hype around the two support acts should have been a warning to how the main set was going to be. As the lights dip and the crowd whip in to full voice with squeals of delight, the monologue to her debut album ‘Amelia’ plays out as the backing band arrive on the stage riser at the back. Moments later, there is no slick way of doing it, but Mimi Webb arrives through the back door and under a dark light, climbs up the back steps to appear atop the riser.
‘Ghost of You’ launches the show properly, Mimi Webb comes to the front of the stage and doesn’t leave. Her “arena” is the front half of the setup and the band remain fixed in the shadows behind. She prowls across the stage from left to right and occasionally waves her arms around to entice the audience in to copying her, which generally works.
‘Remind You’, ‘See You Soon’ and ’24/5′ follow suit. Her debut album is pretty much played in full and musically comes across well. There are clearly nods towards her contemporaries like Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and even Dodie as she makes her way through the show. There feels like there is a punch missing though. At times her vocals are lost in the mix, other times her vocals drown out the music. Even the acoustic version of ‘Amelia’ feels a little flat and again, seems to be missing some depth in the performance.
Die hard fans will not like this summary of the show, but by the time the last track ‘Before I Go’ plays out, there is an inner feeling of being short-changed. As Mimi and her band return for the encore, she tells us that it is “time to party”, it feels like a statement that could be misused. Fortunately, she means business and the whole show shifts up a gear. ‘Last Train to London’ fires to life complete with it’s announcer style introduction and finally, as the room begins to bounce, it feels like a pop show.
‘Red Flags’ and a thumping ‘House on Fire’ close the show. If Mimi and her band had put the amount of effort from the encore in to the full show, this would be a very different review. However, not to knock Mimi, this is the biggest tour she has done to date and the biggest venues, she can very clearly sing and does it very well compared to some in a similar position. It did feel like the production was missing something, even some visual aids, video screens or some stylish and arty lighting to maximise the empty stage space behind could have given it a boost. If it was nerves getting the better of her, then vocally you could not tell. Her band need a boost and maybe some more players to deepen the overall sound could be the key.
Mimi Webb has a very bright future ahead of her as long as the issues are resolved. After an impressive debut album, it was a shame that the live show lacked the punch of perfect pop.