Singer-songwriter Karima Francis was “one to watch” in 2009 when she released her début album until things had to be put on hold due to illness. Now, she’s picking up where she left off with the tour for her second album, “The Remedy”, including a visit to Sin City where she performed to a small but very appreciative crowd.
Beth Angharad is the first support act and gives a lovely performance of a variety of covers and original songs, including a beautiful version of “Atlas Hands” by Benjamin Francis Leftwich. Sophie Eleanor gets the crowd going with an odd but enjoyable cover of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and her song “Zombie Penguins”, the latter of which I hope to see turned into a film. Monument Valley gives an outstanding performance with a similar sound to Frank Turner, though without the harsh twang. He also drinks tea on stage, which is excellent.
Karima herself is fantastic- beautifully dressed in jeans, a shirt and waistcoat and with the cloud of dark hair framing her face that draws many comparisons to a young Bob Dylan. She stands slightly awkwardly at first, but straightens during the set and smiles as the audience grow more enthusiastic with each song.
“This is great,” she tells them. “You guys are so nice, you’re making me feel really special. It’s so good to be here.”
She plays mostly new material with a song from her first album thrown in every now and again. It’s an emotional performance- made more so by the fact that a) it’s her birthday and b) some of her friends have travelled from Derbyshire to support her and see her perform.
On stage her voice is devastating, heartbreaking and powerful, and she allows this emotion to sweep across the crowd and stun even the rowdiest of audience members into complete, silent reverence.
After the show we head to the dressing room where she offers everyone crisps and pretzels while I ask how she think the tour’s going so far.
“It’s been pretty good,” she starts out. “A bit quiet but I think it’s alright. At the moment it kind of feels like I’m just starting out and people are seeing me as a new artist.”
Is it a little daunting to be on tour after such a hiatus from live performing?
She nods. “In my head I’m questioning myself a little bit, like ‘do they actually still like me anymore?’ A couple of years ago I was a lot more confident than I am now.”
Is there any particular part of the tour that she’s looking forward to?
“I’m looking forward to Thursday,” she says brightly. “I’m going to Manchester- Charlotte O’Connor’s going to be there and she’s fantastic.”
She picks Ryan Adams’ album Ashes and Fire as her desert island disc and Ray Lamontagne as a fellow musician she’d like to collaborate with.
“Ashes and Fire is just perfect, one of the few albums in the last couple of years that have been,” she says. “Absolutely perfect. And Ray Lamontagne, because he’s fantastic,” she says. “Or maybe Anthony from Anthony and the Johnsons, that’d be good.”
After the length of time since the last tour it seems as though she’s keen to get back on track and remind people of what she’s already achieved.
“There’s a lot of radio stuff going on at the moment,” she says. “We did an exclusive 2 day show at the Ivy which was great and there’s going to be a double-page spread in The Times.”
When asked where the inspiration and influence for her new album has come from, she’s a little reluctant to answer.
“I don’t want to get into it too much because I think once you hear it you’ll get what it’s about straight away. It’s very… emotional. The first song I wrote for that – I was in hospital and it saved my life.”
There’s a brief pause until she glances to her left at a crate of cider.
“We need to get that in the car before we leave,” she says to her friends and they chuckle at the change of tone.
“I’m not leaving it here! They gave it to us so we have to drink it all.”
We wrap things up because I know she wants to go out for her birthday and she fidgets a bit.
“Do you think I’ve been rude, because we haven’t really talked that much and I kept talking to my friends?” she asks.
“Not at all,” I say.
She looks dubious so I explain that some of the details I’ll use are on her site already and add that most of the interviews I’ve done so far have been with very rowdy, all-male bands. Karima, by comparison, has been very calm and quiet.
“Oh cool, I was a bit worried I’d been rude,” she says. “Thank you.”
Karima Francis was born in Blackpool and is currently based in Manchester. She released her first album The Author on March 23rd 2009 with the song “Again” being single of the week on iTunes that same month. Her second album The Remedy is out on August 20th 2012.