LIVE REVIEW: Mabel, Village Underground, 1/6/17

That Mabel is going to be a star is under no question. The Cherry-McVey scion has amassed quite the following in a short space of time thanks to a solid spate of R&B tunes, not to mention the small matter of a Jools Holland performance.

It’s the runoff audience from the latter that seem largely in attendance tonight at Village Underground, Mabel’s biggest London show to date. And as she sashays on to the stage in a sequined suit, the immediate standout by far is a stage presence that just can’t be taught. Mabel delivers songs like Know Me Better and Bedroom with such ease that you’d think she’s been at this for over a decade.

It’s a solid showing for a 45-minute set, reminiscent of (don’t hate us for saying this) Jessie J back when she was, y’know, good. It’s a smart move for Mabel to be flanked by two background vocalists, as they add an extra organic dimension to Thinking Of You and new song Begging that laptop beats couldn’t have mustered on their own.

Funnily enough, the only thing that holds Mabel back tonight are the songs themselves. She doesn’t have enough of a repertoire for to show off her range; she excels at come-hither R&B, but the mood stays fairly level throughout. That’s brought into sharper focus when she delivers her (admittedly great) cover of No Scrubs – this is clearly the sort of music Mabel adores and pays homage to, but she just needs that big sonic boom moment for her set to really ignite.

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Mabel, Village Underground, 1/6/17
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