Skye Edwards, the silky-voiced songstress who crooned her way to several top-ten hits in the late nineties and early part of this decade with her erstwhile group Morcheeba, rolled into town on a grey autumn day to not much fanfare and a fairly mediocre turnout at Rotunda. Considering the worldwide appeal of Morcheeba and the instant recognizability of so many of their songs, mostly radio-friendly fare, one might not expect this. Such is the fickle nature of pop music these days. It is actually six years since Edwards departed the much-loved band, and two albums down the line she is struggling to re-establish herself in the same league she once occupied, while Morcheeba carry on with a new singer, never quite hitting the heights of old. Having been, with the album ‘Who Can You Trust?’, responsible for the ‘chillout’ genre, a kind of hybrid of blues/country/hip-hop/soul, this might be hard to take for both parties. A case of a band waiting to get back together one might speculate. But wait! Edwards has a new album to promote, and indeed, she has some new songs worth hearing.
The set started off slowly – the seated audience, passive and perhaps waiting to be crooned up on to the floor, were roused from their slumber by a slightly piqued Edwards; “Come on! Get a bit closer, you’re all so far away!” she sweet-talked – and that was enough to break the ice as she opened with a couple of tracks from first album ‘Mind How You Go’. Edward’s mellifluous voice was as angelic as ever, and she slid sexily across the stage, almost Grace Jones-esque. The audience swayed, but weren’t quite getting into it yet. ‘Blindfold’ was rolled out next, and the ice melted away. A little audience participation – cupped ear to the mike – and the chorus echoed around the hall: “I’m so mad to love you, and your evil curse…” A little like Morrissey when he brings out the old Smiths classics, Edwards is on safe territory with these hardy perennials. ‘The Sea’ followed, and everyone was happy. The problem with promoting new material is that not many people know it, and this was clearly playing on the mind of this Diva. “Do you wanna hear any of my new stuff or just the old ones” she queried as the lights went down and the rest of the band retired to the wings for a short solo set. Someone called out a request from a recent Morcheeba album she hadn’t sung on; she was in fits of giggles now. “That’s a good one – I’ll have to write that on my Facebook page tomorrow” she quipped gamely, and was unable to stop herself tittering her way through a pared-down version of ‘Otherwise’. The band came on and she launched into a great, haunting, downtempo number following the preface “be afraid – be very afraid!” called ‘Monsters and Demons’ – probably the pick of the bunch as far as her new stuff is concerned, though ‘Not Broken’ and ‘Clock to Stop’ also showed signs that there is plenty of good stuff left in Edward’s locker. A slinky version of Gorillaz’ ‘Feel Good Inc.’ went down a storm, and the crowd had been well and truly won over by a voice that could enchant the hardest heart, a voice that is as smooth as cream melting into coffee. After just over ninety minutes the band retired without encore, but they’d done enough. Skye Edwards: a singer who hasn’t stopped just yet – though the world may no longer be lookin’ in.
– Stuart Wadsworth