The Hilfiger Session live at Porchester Hall

Tommy Hilfiger's series of invitation-only, high-profile shows made its first debut in London with an upstanding performance by John Legend.

If you’ve somehow missed the hype, the Hilfiger Sessions are a series of relatively intimate, invite-only, international musical events, which see both high profile international acts and new local talent playing together in unusual venues. First kicking off in Amsterdam three years ago, recent sessions have taken place in Madrid, Berlin and New York, with appearances from artists such as Wyclef Jean, Kelly Rowland, Moby and Dave Navarro.

Tonight it’s London’s turn, and the historic Porchester Hall in Bayswater is the chosen venue. It being a Monday, the paparazzi are out(side) in force – waiting as much for certain audience members as any of the bands.

Porchester Hall is a large and rather grand space, but they’ve done a good job of making it feel intimate. The performance area is set up at ground level right in the centre, with about half of the 200 audience members perched on surrounding oversized beanbags and basking in the warm glow of a Hilfiger Sessions neon sign. There’s two free cocktail bars and a small army of smartly-attired waiters dispensing wine and beer. Top marks for hospitality, Tommy!

This being almost as much a fashion event as a live gig, the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening is waiflike British supermodel Daisy Lowe (daughter of Bush singer Gavin Rossdale). Suffice to say, whatever young Daisy got paid for this gig, it was 100% too much. The first act onstage were young local heroes The Metros, and she introduced them by reading aloud their press release.

Despite the lacklustre introduction, the beer-swilling Metros gave it their all. Although their influences are listed as Squeeze, Ian Dury and Beastie Boys, they both looked and sounded like they’re trying to be early Blur. They actually did a pretty good job, too, most especially on the jaunty ‘Last Of The Lookers’.

They were followed by a 19-year-old, Surrey-born, singer-songwriter named Steve Appleton. Playing a funky mix of pop, drum ‘n’ bass and reggae, he came across like the male version of Lily Allen. No bad thing.

Appleton was followed by the gorgeous Zarif – a 23-year-old half-Scottish/half Jewish-Iranian with a voice like a 21st century Diana Ross and a sophisticated kind of sass. She’s being touted as “the next Amy Winehouse,” but there wasn’t a crackpipe in sight. Having said that, she had cracking pipes – and did a brilliant set.

If the three support acts were impressive, John Legend was in a different league.

However, whether he was dancing or tinkling the ivories, he commanded the room from the get-go. For the most part the Springfield singer’s upbeat and soulful set was comprised of songs from his forthcoming album. Evolver will feature collaborations with the likes of Estelle, Will.I.Am, Kanye West and Andre 3000 but in their absence he handled things impeccable nonetheless. Zarif stepped in to duet on ‘No Other Love’. It was the undoubted highpoint of the evening.

An enjoyable night of music, with some great up and coming talent on display. The entire session is free to view on Tommy Hilfiger’s new online TV channel (www.tommytv.com), where it’ll undoubtedly look absolutely brilliant.

 

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