PALOMA FAITH WITH THE GUY BARKER ORCHESTRA, Barbican – Evening Standard, 25 Oct 2013

Paloma Faith used to sing cabaret tunes to a backing tape and imagine an orchestra behind her. Two double-platinum albums later, her dream is a reality.

The latest of the Hackney star’s semi-regular collaborations with the Guy Barker Orchestra was the most ambitious, with 46 musicians on stage and a bit of overlap with her arena shows. You don’t often see confetti showers at the Barbican.

However, one of Britain’s most extravagant showgirls did stick to just the one outfit, albeit a strikingly clinging red dress with a cartoon explosion on the hip and hair wound up like an elaborate pastry.

She seemed more natural in this more intimate environment than at her bigger shows. Her rightful home is beside a grand piano, one hand on its lid. She was a wonderfully theatrical performer, wafting her arms gracefully about her, falling to her knees during Let Me Down Easy and shaking her rump with enthusiasm in a tremendous, swinging Upside Down.

She acknowledged that the arts centre setting attracted what she tactfully called the more “experienced” side of her fanbase. There must have been more than a few hips in need of replacement after a raucous, funky cover of Candi Staton’s I’d Rather be an Old Man’s Sweetheart (Than a Young Man’s Fool).

Her innate understanding of the right way to tackle a classic cover, from Love Me or Leave Me to Wild is the Wind, left her original material somewhat overshadowed. However, when the orchestra attempted disco on Blood Sweat & Tears, the party spirit was all her own.

“Listening to an orchestra is the closest you can get to heaven on earth,” she said. If the audience had half as much fun as she clearly did, it was a victorious evening.