BEVERLEY KNIGHT + DJ MUNRO + CASEY McQUILLEN – BRIGHTON DOME 7.11.23
The South Coast has recently been braving a big and blustery weatherfront in the form of Storm Ciaran, but what better way to blow away those winter blues than to watch Beverley Knight perform her own unique brand of Soul at Brighton’s very own favourite venue, The Dome. This is the 15th date on Beverley Knight’s mammoth 20 date UK tour which has been simply named ‘50’, to acknowledge her milestone birthday year and her first album release in seven years by the name of ‘The Fifth Chapter’. Beverley ends her tour at The London Palladium but also has another appearance in 2024 booked at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall.
I first saw Beverley Knight at the 02 Arena in London when she was playing support to Prince during his residency there in 2007. I remember Beverley and her band walking through the audience as they took to the central stage and wooing the audience with an impressive set of old school Soul music. We weren’t the only ones to be impressed mind you, because Prince even flew her over to L.A in 2008 to perform at his house as part of the Oscars after party celebrations. After his unfortunate passing, I was also lucky enough to see Beverley Knight’s special guest performance at his backing band, The New Power Generation’s gig at London’s Indig02 venue a few years later.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when talking about Beverley’s music career though. She has now released nine studio albums and enjoyed many hit singles over the years, proving her longevity and well and truly cementing her reputation as the UK’s very own Queen Of Soul. She has won three MOBO awards as well as receiving an MBE in 2006 (As if that wasn’t enough, she even toured with the reformed Take That). Beverley Knight is also very active in her charity work and is an ambassador of many, including the Terrence Higgins Trust. In more recent years, she has enjoyed big success in acting, whether it be on our TV screens or more prominently treading the boards of the theatre (She has appeared in the likes of ‘Drifters Girl’, ‘The Bodyguard’, ‘Sylvia’ and most recently ‘Sister Act’ to huge acclaim).
It was to be an early start tonight, so I hot footed to The Dome in order to see Casey McQuillen’s support slot which was due to start at 7.30pm (more details on that coming up below). It was nearly time for the hotly anticipated Beverley Knight performance we were all waiting for, but not before her resident tour DJ (DJ Munro) took to the stage. He has had quite the career himself from what I’ve read, and he has worked with some big names. What I do know though, is that tonight he was playing some absolute Soul/Funk bangers (nothing to do with sausages) to an audience evidently up for a boogie on a Tuesday evening. Almost 30 minutes had elapsed involving much head nodding from yours truly, and then it was time for DJ Munro to turn into a very effective hype man for the main event looming on the horizon. The crowd’s vocal chords were suitably warmed up at this point, as DJ Munro’s decks were wheeled offstage and Beverley’s band took to their positions.
It was 8.30pm and Beverley Knight joined her band on the stage like a Soul powered runaway train, tearing into her opening number (‘Greatest Day’) like her life depended on it. Her seven piece band were all clad in white and Beverley was dressed head to toe in black to striking effect. Her second number (‘Made It Back ‘99’) was just as funky as the first one, and you soon realised that you were watching a class act in action. The sound in the venue was spot on too and Beverley Knight’s voice was powerful and faultless. She mentioned her new album ‘The Fifth Chapter’ at this point, and I noticed earlier that you could buy a signed CD version of it for a very reasonable £10 (they’d sold out by the first interval…I missed out).
Next up, was one of the lead off singles from that very album by the name of ‘Systematic Overload’ which certainly got the audience dancing (many of them knowing the lyrics already). Soon afterwards, the band ran through a medley of some older songs which gave Beverley the chance to show off some nifty dance moves and a whole lot of energy. Tonight incidentally, was a fully seated event but that didn’t put off most of the audience, who were happily dancing and clapping away to the Soulful grooves on offer.
To give us a chance to catch our collective breaths, some of the band stepped away from their instruments and sat on the edge of the stage with Ms.Knight to perform some songs in an acoustic stripped down manner. Beverley dedicated her song ‘Fallen Soldier’ to her friend and bandmate who sadly passed away in 2020. She also very commendably dedicated the song to Stephen Lawrence who was tragically murdered in 1993 in a racially motivated attack, and also to anyone that has suffered a loss within the LGBTQ1+ community. Shortly afterwards, the band performed a sultry Bluesy/Soul number called ‘The Need Of You’, featuring an amazing lead vocal which actually got a standing ovation (a gesture normally reserved for the end of the evening).
It was nearing the end of the night mind you, but not before Beverley and her band played a crowd pleasing rendition of one of her biggest hits, ‘Shoulda Woulda Coulda’. She ended the set with ‘Come As You Are’ and by this time, everyone was on their feet behaving like it was the weekend. Beverley and the band left the stage to much cheering and stamping of feet, and we were rewarded with three more songs before bedtime. The first song was a cover version of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ (which never gets old to these ears) and I must say that Beverley Knight is one of the first people I’ve witnessed that could actually hit those impossible Chaka high notes. She followed this with ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ by Prince (she proclaimed, “This one’s for my idol!”) and to my joy, she did this song justice too. The last song of the evening was ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’ which Beverley managed to get the whole crowd to sing along to in acapella fashion. The crowd clearly didn’t want to see her go and were still singing the chorus well after the band had left the stage. Beverley Knight said that she wanted to inject a bit of Saturday night into a Tuesday one, and I can safely say that she succeeded. Tonight had such a great atmosphere, and we all knew that we had just witnessed a band and contemporary Soul singer,clearly at the top of their game. This wasn’t just a Tuesday night. This was a Beverley Knight to remember…
Beverley Knight setlist:
‘Made It Back ‘99’
‘A Little More Love’
‘Not Prepared For You’
‘Flavour Of The Old School’ / ‘Moving On Up’ / ‘Get Up’
‘Keep This Fire Burning’ (Robyn cover)
‘The Need Of You’
‘I’m On Fire’
‘Shoulda Woulda Coulda’
‘Someone Else’s Problem’
‘Last One On My Mind’
‘Come As You Are’
‘I’m Every Woman’ (Chaka Khan cover)
‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ (Prince cover)
‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’
First up tonight was rising US pop sensation and American Idol finalist, Casey McQuillen. This talented singer/songwriter has been supporting Beverley Knight throughout her current tour, laying the foundations for her very own solo UK headline tour set for February/March of 2024 (more details below). Casey is also promoting her latest single, ‘The One’ which is currently making big waves amongst fans and her ever increasing large online presence. ‘The One’ we are informed, is a song of empowerment which is a theme that seems to run deeply throughout her repertoire. Casey has also set up an Anti Bullying Campaign tour in the States which has seen her perform and interact with over 40.000 pupils on the matter, which is very commendable I think you’ll agree.
Casey took to the stage promptly at 7.30pm with a loud “Hello Brighton!!” which gave me just enough time to grab myself a cup of H20 and plant myself in my seat. The room was already pretty full at this point and Casey took to the stage armed with an acoustic guitar, a neon sign and an electric guitar on standby. Her warmth won over the crowd (and myself) from the get go and her energy was infectious. She comically mentioned that she was wearing sparkly shoes to balance out the depressing songs that she sings, which raised a giggle from the audience.
She began her set with a pleasant poppy number called ‘Dying’ which wasn’t as depressing as it sounds, and followed that with a song called ‘How Love Begins’ which she tells us, was featured on an American TV show called ‘Temptation Island’ (an overseas equivalent to ‘Love Island’, so help me god). Casey is very good at talking between songs I might add, and I could imagine her performing as a comedian in another life maybe.
She then sang a song called ‘Skinny’ which she wrote after the Covid lockdown, dealing with body positivity issues which got a big cheer from the crowd tonight. She also told us that she was once a Wedding singer, before strapping on her electric guitar and breaking into an impressive Blues rendition of an Etta James song called ‘At Last’. Before we knew it, her set was coming to an end. She told us to say hello in the foyer and meet her mum who had flown over from the U.S to watch her perform tonight. Her last song was called ‘In And Out’ which was her first song to be aired on American radio and then Casey said her farewells, with her audience well and truly won over in her wake.
Casey McQuillen setlist:
‘How Love Begins’
‘At Last’ (Etta James cover)
‘In And Out’
Casey McQuillen 2024 dates:
29/02/24 – Manchester (Castle Hotel)
01/03/24 – Glasgow (Classic Grand)
02/03/24 – Newcastle (The Cluny 2)
07/03/24 – Birmingham (The Sunflower Lounge)
08/03/24 – London (The Spice Of Life)
09/03/24 – Leicester (The Soundhouse)
Tour tickets can be located HERE.