The Cinematic Orchestra – The Roundhouse, London, UK (22 March)

‘A timeless question of vital importance in 2019 – what to believe?’

That’s how the theme of new album ‘To Believe’ has been described by nu-jazz electronica ensemble The Cinematic Orchestra, who last week at the Roundhouse, marked its release with three fast-selling headline shows.

It’s been a while in the making, with their last album released over a decade ago and the title track released back in 2016. ‘What to believe’, then, has certainly been a changing concept in these past years.

Each London show celebrated guest performances by collaborating vocalists on the new release. Grey Reverend, Tawiah and Heidi Vogel took to the stage through the evening – a great bonus for an album release to be supported so heavily by its various collaborators, but unsurprisingly given the vocals-heavy nature of the album.

Much of the set was dedicated to ‘To Believe’ with anticipated additions like ‘All that you give’ and ‘Channel 1 Suite’. Where the new album was debuted, it shone. Each performance by Vogel was beautifully mixed, particularly of ‘A Promise’. Although arguably overly dominated by sax accompaniment – and after all, if there’s anything ‘To Believe has taught us, it’s that less is more – the song was even more dynamic live than recorded, a testament to a song that even at 11 minutes long remains utterly concise.

Without question, Tawiah was the queen of the show. Her exquisite rendition of ‘Wait for Now / Leave the World’ was set by soulful backing singers that pass unnoticeably on the recording. It was the third piece of the night but would easily have suited the place of final song – firmly setting itself in stone as the album’s quiet masterpiece.

Credit: Fabrice Bourgelle