A Liquorice Allsorts crowd at The Forum tonight, with a pleasing blend of friends, Romans and countrymen (well, more accurately, hipsters, Southerners and Sheffielders), out for the freeshow. Brothers Low Duo kicked off the evening with urgent riffs and lyrics seemingly stolen from the mind of a little boy nightmaring in an unkind village – in a surprisingly pleasing way . If this act had headlined the show, I would have left more than satisfied. But then, there was Karima.
Karima Francis doesn’t have to step on stage to have stage presence. Her voice floods the room. It bulges and swells into each corner. It curls outwards and inwards with the wave of the song, lapsing into a groaning ebb at moments under a weight of sadness.
Karima Francis doesn’t have to trap the eyes and ears of her audience. Her music is in itself an aching seduction; the words tripping from her lips brush at the memory of you, condensed. You at your best, your most alive, your most in love, the beauty of you, completely wrecked and wretched, when all the teacups, dirty clothes and daytime television fade into middle distance.
Karima Francis’s character doesn’t sharpen into focus when she steps into the spotlight. If anything her gaze wanders somewhere else, to another landscape and another time. She trawls up memories to hold in her palm and inspect once more.
I think it would be fair to say that almost everybody in The Forum last night fell a little in love with her, as she did rounds of the bar in the hours before her set, smiling, sharing a few words, spilling over with a lightness of being.
As I drunkenly weaved my way home, I tried to explain how I felt to Pete. There’s no need for a Sasha Fierce or Jo Calderone here – she could be playing in a park, in a lift, on a bench, in an auditorium, and Karima Francis would be Karima Francis; honest, raw and beautiful.
In case you’re not sure, I liked it.