Having overcome several obstacles in her life, Getintothis’ Luke Traynor sees Rumer give a triumphant performance at the Epstein Theatre.
For a woman not too distantly hit by the black dogs of bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress, Rumer, tonight, is conspicuously radiating warmth and gratitude. Dressed elegantly in a shimmering black ball gown, this well-journeyed 35-year-old is a glowing beacon of smiles, audience praise, and gratefulness.
Is Sarah Joyce, aka Rumer, slowly but surely discovering an equilibrium after the adulating highs and crashing depressive lows that soon accompanied the release of 2010’s smash debut Seasons Of My Soul?
Three months since the November arrival of her third LP Into Colour, Rumer now fortified by a nature-infused lifestyle in small-town Arkansas, USA, appears comfortable, at ease, and indebted to the packed house at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre.
If this Pakistani-born Brit’s inner-belief might sometimes crumble, she can always be assured her vocal delivery is peerless. As soon as the first few notes resonate, fans visibly sink contentedly into seats and bask in the glow of that beautifully velvet voice, as delicious and lovely as sugared churros dripping with toffee sauce.
With a creamy mid-register and feather-like falsetto, silky tracks like Am I Forgiven are a welcome antidote to a yawning Friday evening, a reassuring hug at the end of a trying week.
Reach Out speaks of pulling back lost souls from the brink of despair while Baby Come Back To Bed is a lilt about longing – ordinary sentiments about every day love.
Aretha, with its arresting reflection, “Mama would notice but she’s always crying, I’ve got no-one to confide in“, is a possible nod to her troubled childhood, her parents divorce and her mother’s untimely death from breast cancer in 2003. Aged just 24, the tragedy sparked a breakdown and a 12-month retreat into a south-east commune. Yes, her relatively short life has been packed with, mostly unwarranted, drama.
There have been remarkable highs, however.
Being compared to Karen Carpenter, heralded by Burt Bacharach, notching two BRIT nominations and playing for the Obamas at The White House are uplifting experiences for any performer. But still, her music always exposes a tormented individual, desperately yearning for self-acceptance.
Sam, from Into Colour, recalling an emotionally-understanding old flame, reveals Rumer keen to push her battered soul out into the open, exposing her vulnerability, imploring us to identify with the unifying acknowledgment of human weakness.
Even tracks depicting the bad and the ugly – Blackbird tells of being in the grip of addiction – manage to be exquisite.
Thankful, from the encore, encapsulates Rumer‘s philosophy, post-mental illness, post-2013 twins miscarriage, with memories vividly articulated, simply put, and acutely observed.
“It’s the first breath of springtime, and a warm wind picks up the fallen blossom. And sails in circles down the street.
“A lady cycles past with her hair in braids. As they’re pulling down the awning to the train station cafe.”
So commonplace, but set to that enchanting voice, and carefree backing piano, it hits the spot.
Half of the Epstein rises to its feet for a standing ovation.
One newly-arrived woman, suddenly standing next to us on the balcony, mouths every single word, clapping, grinning, clearly delighted for Rumer. She cranes her neck to calculate how many are joining in the ovation below.
She’s doubtless a very close friend, a manager perhaps. Either way, a trusted confidante, overjoyed that this once hugely troubled talent has found – put simply – how to be.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Vicky Pea.