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Review: A Night With Amaroun
Amaroun is already on the towpath when I arrive. The first thing she does is pull me in for a huge hug. Then we’re onto The London Barge Co. barge - Xenia, pulling in guitars, amps and cables.
The set is cosy, sparkling and intimate. Pink neon glowing from UV lamps onto grey marine plywood, Amaroun’s bright blue Adidas tracksuit and merchandise mirroring in the disco ball.
‘A lot of my music is about being queer and black,’ Amaroun tells us, as 35+ huddle round on cushions and chairs. These themes are present in her album ‘Mars’ (reminiscent of the ‘alien’ feelings of otherness), and through the lyrics of Brown Skin Beauty and Choose which Amaroun sings with gorgeous airy vocals and goosebump-raising melodies.
She stands in a power stance, singing ‘just tell them who you are [...] ‘I’m talkin’ about freedom.’ Choose echoes with pain but primarily - with feelings of liberation - specifically in the context of coming out in a religious family.
These themes of liberation remind us of the joyful aspects of Amaroun’s queerness - as she speckles the evening with romantic tracks - unapologetic and piercingly beautiful, proudly resonating through synths, guitars and lullaby-esque vocals.
There’s her beautiful cover of the SOS song just be good to me, which Amaroun reshapes - her voice shimmering with vulnerability and rawness. This, Good’ (‘you’re so good to me’) and her live version of her newest track Sugarcane (‘I know that feeling, that look on your face’) have the audience clapping, grinning and glowing. Her energy is unmistakable and infectious.
My favourite song Amaroun performs has to be Slowdown. Eerie chords quiver from her electric guitar and her ethereal voice reverberates through the now perfectly still audience. The sound is a stripped-back version of the album version, and the result is hauntingly beautiful.
‘I always struggle to get through that one,’ she laughs after Slowdown, ‘I’ve got ADHD.’ Nobody would have guessed. Amaroun has us all mesmerised.