Karima Francis Ironworks 8 September 2011
Room 2 at the Ironworks was the setting for, The Observer’s “One to Watch” in 2009, Karima Francis’s stop off in her Scottish leg of her tour where she was tonight supported by local singer songwriter Megan Blyth. Judging by the number of friends, family and fans that Megan had brought with her it was arguable that Karima was supporting Megan.
Megan Blyth burst onto the music scene this year in a series of local gigs and festival slots (you can catch her at Jocktoberfest at the Black Isle Brewery where she has a lunchtime slot this Saturday). Each turn has seen her raw talent blossom and tonight was no exception. For someone so young she has mature song writing abilities whether it be evoking images of looking for dolphins at Chanonry Point in Where The Sky Meets the Sea, through to tales of certain girls when she was at school in Aching For Someone.
It is, however, in her slower, more considered atmospheric songs such as the “picky” Blue and the two day old Freedom of Silence that Megan’s growing confidence is best displayed . To finish her set off we were treated to the up-tempo A Million Miles and a massive voice that tonight filled the tiny room that is Room 2. (You can read Megan’s first ever interview, here)
Blackpool lass Karima Francis was up next confessing that this was the first time that she had been this far north. Karima is kick starting her career following a couple of years out predominantly due to illness, one of the many subjects that she touched upon between songs. Karima concentrated on material from her forthcoming album but also gave us a couple of tracks from her first, The Author, including the title song and Francis. But Karima has moved on from her initial offering, and is looking forward positively to the future with confidence in her material. But that confidence at times, especially early in set, was not always evident and Karima was almost apologetic to the audience and thanked them for turning up for someone whose songs they didn’t know. Maybe she had caught on to the majority of the audience primarily turning up to see young Megan, but she needn’t have been concerned as the warmth in the room grew for Karima’s soulful and ultimately heart warming set which included the rather beguiling opener Arrest You, and the equally alluring The Remedy and Forgiven .
Her trust in the audience grew to the point where she handed her iPhone to an audience member to film one of her songs for her facebook page (must remember to check that one out!). With such a soothing vocal it would have been all too easy to close my eyes and sink into the sofa at the side of the room and drift along with the set, but the banter between the songs lifted me out of that zone as I enjoyed Karima’s little anecdotes about drunken tattoos and her excitement about working with legendary producer, Flood, even admitting that she never knew who he was when she first spoke to him! All in all an accomplished performance from Karima, now back on track following a false start. The one to watch in 2009, maybe that wasn’t to be, but 2012….that’s another story…
Frank Finlayson (Frankie Boy unmasked)