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Concert Review by Kris Griffiths

Jazz Café, London – February 2002

As this is my first ever visit to Camden’s popular Jazz Café I turn up with a good hour to spare before the performance to find a stylish and cosy little venue but with beer prices that have me snorting with disdain and swiftly hot-footing it to the nearest pub. After returning with seconds to spare I take my place at the front-left of the stage only to wait almost another hour for Baz and her band to finally make their entry. By that time a fairly healthy crowd of youngsters have accumulated in front of the small stage and seem less impressed than myself by the new queen of undersoul’s late appearance.

Baz saunters onto the stage barefoot and clad in a rather interesting looking long red jacket. As she and the band ease into the opening number I notice that the keyboard hasn’t been plugged in because despite the keyboardist plodding away cheerfully, I can’t hear a thing coming from it. Baz doesn’t seem to mind though and bops casually around the stage smiling and singing with what I can only describe as a very sweet voice. Now don’t get me wrong – the girl can sing, and she will most probably become a prominent figure in the world of pop, but her music does absolutely nothing for me. It is a very basic soul-pop-hip-hop fusion that is a far cry from the music that would usually be swirling around this small and smoky jazz venue. Baz describes her ‘undersoul’ music as passionate, soulful pop derived from mixing her emotions into sound, but to me her music conveys real emotion in the same way a Goodfellas pizza conveys the real taste of Italy.

As each samey song from debut album PSYCHEDELIC LOVE seemingly blends into the next without any major deviation in tempo, the audience just about moves up a gear from a slow swaying to a gentle bobbing motion. When the mellow groove of top 40 hit BELIEVERS eventually floats from the stage, sections of the crowd finally start mouthing lyrics with vague recognition and moving in a fashion similar to dancing. I later find out that the track has enjoyed a period of rotation on Radio 1, The Box, MTV Dance and Kiss TV but at the concert I suddenly realise that it is just a remake of Kool and the Gang’s GET DOWN ON IT with a different vocal melody.

Shortly after the song finishes I go to the bar to grudgingly purchase another pint but when I turn around I find that the band have finished playing and have left the stage whilst the crowd are now dancing animatedly to what sounds like M People being piped in from the speakers. Case: rested.