Live Review: Bedouine at The Purcell Room, Southbank Centre London

Bedouine is the recording name of Azniv Korkejian a ”Gallicised riff on Bedouin, the nomad, the wanderer”. She was born in Syria and lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to the US and ending up in Los Angeles (via Texas). She has one album recorded so far and this made up the bulk of the concert. The album is full of piano, guitar, horns, strings and lush harmonies but it was a mainly solo performance at The Purcell Room.

The audience was alive with pre-gig drink and lively chatter but, once the lights dimmed and Bedouine appeared on stage a spell was cast and the audience fell silent. And this was the kind of spell from a fairy tale as this was a Goldilocks concert: one of those perfect moments regular gig goers dream of. The venue lent itself perfectly to the performer: dark with a well-lit stage, the audience barely breathed during the show so the spell was never broken the sound was crystal clear and all this pulled focus on an artist who proved to be in perfect harmony between their songs and performance.

Bedouine smiles warmly and introduces herself while she puts on a guitar that looks older than her. Then she starts singing and all is right with the world. For the next 60 minutes I don’t work, I have no bills, no aches and pains there is no Brexit. After a number of solo songs Bedouine explains why there are places set for a string quartet. She had been talking to fellow Los Angelinos Lucius about coming to London and they said she should do something special and get an orchestra together. This led to a last minute gathering of the string players who joined her for at least half the set. This wasn’t just a rare treat for the audience and Bedouine appeared genuinely caught up in the beautiful strings arrangements and in one moment she was playing guitar and closed her eyes seemingly as in thrall to the quartet as the audience was.

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Bedouine’s voice is spun gold. It could calm a dragon and make Pinocchio a real boy. There is power and poise in the control she has over her singing and it’s utterly hypnotic; laid-back but never languid. And I am not using hypnotic for effect. I had meant to remember as many songs from the set as possible but was so lost in the moment I forgot to jot anything in my mental notebook. I would happily place Bedouine in the vocal hall of fame along with Astrid Gilberto, Karen Carpenter, Sumie and Joni Mitchell.

Bedouine’s self-titled album would slot right into that all important part of your record collection: The Perfect Sunday Morning album. It’s up there with Otis Redding’s ‘Otis Blue’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Court and Spark’ Kruder & Dorfmeister’s ‘K&D Sessions’ or anything by Nick Drake, Kings of Convenience, Debussy or Satie.

If you like what you hear then Bedouine is playing again at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London in September. Tickets available here.

Review and Photography by Paul F Cook
bedouinemusic.com

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