Discover this:

Miles Apart: Kiwanuka At The Brighton Centre

‘Even if we are miles apart.’  

These are the echoing last words of Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘Light.’ They’ve taken on new meaning with all that we’ve been through since its release at the end of 2019, which made finally getting to hear them from the man himself even more liberating. 

It’s been a long time coming. He was originally set to embark on a UK tour two years ago in support of his eponymous third album, and while that obviously didn’t go to plan, the wait has proven a valuable asset, giving listeners time to fully absorb the record, and allowing him space to further develop its tunes with his band, imbuing each song with an earned maturity.  By the time he took the stage in Brighton on May 20th, Kiwanuka had already become something of a modern classic for those in attendance. 

Anticipation hung heavy in the air as ‘Piano Joint (This Kind Of Love)’ began. This was exactly the occasion that it was written for; the undulating kick drum gave a sense of gravity and deliberation to the start of the set, sounding as the approaching footsteps of the as yet absent singer-songwriter. Despite the grand entrance, Kiwanuka appeared as humble as ever, waving gleefully as he emerged from the wings to rapturous applause. His audience’s admiration only became more palpable as he reached the microphone, at which point every soul in the room fell into a hushed silence, heeding his every syllable.  

Something that struck me from the moment the first note rang out was the sound. Where gigs often overcompensate on the volume front, here everything was crystal clear – yet it still sat at a comfortable level, loud enough to fill the venue but not overwhelm. For an artist as introspective as this, this was exactly the right choice.  

That sound quality extended well beyond ‘Piano Joint,’ continuing to impress as the band  exploded into an enormous rendition of ‘One More Night.’ While the recorded track features a more restrained atmosphere, here everything was turned up to eleven, with fuzzy lines from guitarist Michael Jablonka and an invigorating tempo increase bringing an unexpected edge.  This was the first moment in the set that had the whole room moving, but it was far from the last. Soon the trifecta of ‘You Ain’t The Problem,’ ‘Rolling’ and ‘I’ve Been Dazed’ shook the building, the latter transforming The Brighton Centre into a church as it delivered a long-awaited gospel singalong.  

Elsewhere Kiwanuka’s plentiful influences bled through. ‘Rule The World’ fused Bond and  Floyd, culminating in a climactic vocal solo à la ‘The Great Gig In The Sky,’ while a sprinkling of Home Again tracks painted him as a modern-day Terry Callier. An impressive lighting  installation reflected the mood throughout, offering up kaleidoscopic visuals for the bridge of  ‘Hero’ and stark colour contrasts during ‘Black Man In A White World.’ 

The supporting visuals made the show a true multimedia spectacle, with an astoundingly tight performance, fantastic sound quality, and a stage set up to rival the best.  

The only drawback to such a setup is that it restricts the setlist, making it harder to add songs on the fly without compromising the overall tone of the gig. Although some of my favourites went unplayed, the song choice was expertly curated, mixing in a good helping of older material with Kiwanuka’s tracklist. ‘Falling’ was a welcome surprise to open the encore, and the softly-lit ‘Rest’ reminded me of the Muswell Hill-born musician’s earlier days.  

Even at its bleakest, the show felt triumphant. This was Kiwanuka’s time to shine – and shine he did, showing off his instrumental prowess on ‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ and taking the literal spotlight with the sombre ‘Solid Ground’ – but he never made a fuss of himself, instead electing to slot in as one part of a bigger whole. Ultimately the audience was as much a part of his performance as his phenomenal band, helping to carry ‘Cold Little Heart’ and ‘Love &  Hate’ to glory. If one thing was clear, it was that Kiwanuka knows how to write a singable melody.  

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this was one of the best live concerts I’ve ever seen.  We can only imagine the logistics and preparation that go into something like this, and it’s fair to say that workers in any sector of live music could learn a lot from the standards presented here. It was a poignant reminder of why we go to gigs, made all the more intense through  songs like the aforementioned ‘Light.’ If there was one concert to lead us out of the darkness,  this was indisputably it. 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter

Advertisement

Recommended for you:

Steely Dan: pyncher

Dark, moody, and full of energy and electricity all describe Manchester’s latest underground gem, pyncher, perfectly. The young band exude that raw, dirty, yet artful aesthetic that the post punk space is known for while making it entirely their own – falling somewhere between the gap of post punk and grunge rock. Sam Blakeley’s often elegantly guttural voice, heavily reminiscent of Lux Interior of The Cramps, creates this rich feeling of longing throughout their discography, in a way that, although similar to other punkesque artists, established pyncher as a powerful contender in the scene. Steely Dan, the band’s new single, released by Isolar Records on the 28th October, is a well-loved fan favourite often played at live shows. Opening with a raucously infectious bassline, a disturbing cackle and almost menacing “Hey Steely! What about me man?” from Blakely, the song is one sure to get you jumping along. Full of pent up

Read More »

Ave Maria: Bishopskin

Bishopskin and religious iconography are like bread and butter. Not only is it in their band name, song names, and running through their lyricism like a golden thread, but it is in their live performances, which feel like a spiritual awakening for both band and audience. Their new single, “Ave Maria,” is no different. Another postmodern indie rock canticle added to their discography that I’m sure is to be just as well received as their previous releases.     Tiger Nicholson, lead vocalist, opens the tune with a sombre prayer-like monologue, describing the tangibility and mysticism of his natural surroundings, partnered with an angelic chant and clapping sequence reminiscent of simpler times. Almost tribal, it is backed by the cyclical moan of a saxophone, artfully played by Jed Holloway, the saxophonist of the eight-piece collective. Telling the story of visions of Jerusalem and Mary on the English moorland, the passion of the

Read More »

Alien Chicks release new single ‘Woodlouse’

Experimental post-punk power trio Alien Chicks released their addictively catchy third single “Woodlouse” on Friday. The Brixton-based band sold out their Windmill Brixton launch party and played to a packed venue on Friday night, causing a big scramble for spare tickets.  The launch was full of energy emanating from both the band and crowd, with a mosh pit throughout their set and more crowd surfers than we have ever witnessed at the Windmill. In matching three-piece costumes, Alien Chicks played a thrilling set, twisting and turning through elements of rap, ska, and jazz and touching on countless different time signatures, breaks and climaxes while maintaining a raw post-punk edge to their sound.  Supported by the mysterious ‘The Kings’ Arms’ (The Queens’ Head), Gag Salon, and Neuroplacid, they topped off the night with a session of Windmill karaoke – an after-gig ritual they have become known for. Fans went home (or

Read More »

Squire: the next big thing from Newcastle

Rough Trade is a goldmine bursting to the brim of undiscovered and lesser known gems, artists on the up hill climb to stardom, who wholeheartedly deserve to be in the limelight. I discovered the band Squire, hailing from Newcastle, when I popped down to the Bristol Rough Trade a few weeks ago and what a gig they put on! Having released their first single, Drama, in 2019, the band have been steadily growing in popularity, breaking 10,000 streams on Spotify. Since then they have released nine more singles, all equally infectious. With incredible showmanship and their latest release, Lime, this new indie band is the perfect addition to your summer playlist.  

Read More »

Everything All Of The Time: Kid A Revisited

Rick Simpson brings new life to Radiohead classics at The Jazz Cafe. Though it’s only a stone’s throw from Camden Town tube station, my dash to The Jazz Cafe on the night of Sunday, 20th February was a wet one.  Outside the venue, the latest in a volley of storms was raging through London’s streets. Inside, meanwhile, a drenched crowd was eagerly awaiting pianist and composer Rick Simpson, who was set to perform Everything All Of The Time: Kid A Revisited, his ode to the seminal Radiohead album.  A madly brilliant, sprawling recontextualisation of Kid A presented by way of jazz quintet, the project sees Simpson taking a scalpel to each track and extracting its core DNA for use as a basis in his crazed experiments. Each minute detail has been immaculately captured in a recording, and whilst I wholeheartedly advise you to grab a copy, I feel that there’s

Read More »

Bishopskin: Lean Closer

Bishopskin call the track less “primal,” than their recent single, “I Was Born on an Island,” but the injection of a little modernity ultimately showcases the band’s wide range, and adept control at genre-bending.

Read More »

The Apocalyptic Indie Romance of Black Books

The Apocalyptic Indie Romance of Black Books, Austin, TX-based indie rockers Black Books have been teasing new material as of late.  The prospect of a new album has made me delve back into the band’s rich archives, which contain some of the most prescient, melodic tracks this side of the 20th century. Think Townes Van Zandt meets Pink Floyd…but in a bar off South Congress. The band’s 2020 single, “Goodbye Cool,” was released alongside a video that seemed to foretell the entire scope of the pandemic a month before it arrived. If the band’s past work can tell us anything about their upcoming release, it’s that it will be jam-packed with the kind of songs you want to listen to again and again, in every imaginable setting…

Read More »

Audiobooks: Synths Like You’ve Never Heard Before

Art student Evangeline Ling and Producer David Wrench are the brilliant duo behind the otherworldly synth-pop band, Audiobooks. Brilliantly thought out alien landscapes crafted by Wrench meet the worldly lyrics of Evangeline Ling. Throw in a touch of Wednesday Addams and a hint of Saruman the Wise and there you have it, a phenomenal band.

Read More »

Steely Dan: pyncher

Dark, moody, and full of energy and electricity all describe Manchester’s latest underground gem, pyncher, perfectly. The young band exude that raw, dirty, yet artful aesthetic that the post punk space is known for while making it entirely their own – falling somewhere between the gap of post punk and grunge rock. Sam Blakeley’s often elegantly guttural voice, heavily reminiscent of Lux Interior of The Cramps, creates this rich feeling of longing throughout their discography, in a way that, although similar to other punkesque artists, established pyncher as a powerful contender in the scene. Steely Dan, the band’s new single, released by Isolar Records on the 28th October, is a well-loved fan favourite often played at live shows. Opening with a raucously infectious bassline, a disturbing cackle and almost menacing “Hey Steely! What about me man?” from Blakely, the song is one sure to get you jumping along. Full of pent up

Read More »

Ave Maria: Bishopskin

Bishopskin and religious iconography are like bread and butter. Not only is it in their band name, song names, and running through their lyricism like a golden thread, but it is in their live performances, which feel like a spiritual awakening for both band and audience. Their new single, “Ave Maria,” is no different. Another postmodern indie rock canticle added to their discography that I’m sure is to be just as well received as their previous releases.     Tiger Nicholson, lead vocalist, opens the tune with a sombre prayer-like monologue, describing the tangibility and mysticism of his natural surroundings, partnered with an angelic chant and clapping sequence reminiscent of simpler times. Almost tribal, it is backed by the cyclical moan of a saxophone, artfully played by Jed Holloway, the saxophonist of the eight-piece collective. Telling the story of visions of Jerusalem and Mary on the English moorland, the passion of the

Read More »

Alien Chicks release new single ‘Woodlouse’

Experimental post-punk power trio Alien Chicks released their addictively catchy third single “Woodlouse” on Friday. The Brixton-based band sold out their Windmill Brixton launch party and played to a packed venue on Friday night, causing a big scramble for spare tickets.  The launch was full of energy emanating from both the band and crowd, with a mosh pit throughout their set and more crowd surfers than we have ever witnessed at the Windmill. In matching three-piece costumes, Alien Chicks played a thrilling set, twisting and turning through elements of rap, ska, and jazz and touching on countless different time signatures, breaks and climaxes while maintaining a raw post-punk edge to their sound.  Supported by the mysterious ‘The Kings’ Arms’ (The Queens’ Head), Gag Salon, and Neuroplacid, they topped off the night with a session of Windmill karaoke – an after-gig ritual they have become known for. Fans went home (or

Read More »

Squire: the next big thing from Newcastle

Rough Trade is a goldmine bursting to the brim of undiscovered and lesser known gems, artists on the up hill climb to stardom, who wholeheartedly deserve to be in the limelight. I discovered the band Squire, hailing from Newcastle, when I popped down to the Bristol Rough Trade a few weeks ago and what a gig they put on! Having released their first single, Drama, in 2019, the band have been steadily growing in popularity, breaking 10,000 streams on Spotify. Since then they have released nine more singles, all equally infectious. With incredible showmanship and their latest release, Lime, this new indie band is the perfect addition to your summer playlist.  

Read More »

Everything All Of The Time: Kid A Revisited

Rick Simpson brings new life to Radiohead classics at The Jazz Cafe. Though it’s only a stone’s throw from Camden Town tube station, my dash to The Jazz Cafe on the night of Sunday, 20th February was a wet one.  Outside the venue, the latest in a volley of storms was raging through London’s streets. Inside, meanwhile, a drenched crowd was eagerly awaiting pianist and composer Rick Simpson, who was set to perform Everything All Of The Time: Kid A Revisited, his ode to the seminal Radiohead album.  A madly brilliant, sprawling recontextualisation of Kid A presented by way of jazz quintet, the project sees Simpson taking a scalpel to each track and extracting its core DNA for use as a basis in his crazed experiments. Each minute detail has been immaculately captured in a recording, and whilst I wholeheartedly advise you to grab a copy, I feel that there’s

Read More »

Bishopskin: Lean Closer

Bishopskin call the track less “primal,” than their recent single, “I Was Born on an Island,” but the injection of a little modernity ultimately showcases the band’s wide range, and adept control at genre-bending.

Read More »

The Apocalyptic Indie Romance of Black Books

The Apocalyptic Indie Romance of Black Books, Austin, TX-based indie rockers Black Books have been teasing new material as of late.  The prospect of a new album has made me delve back into the band’s rich archives, which contain some of the most prescient, melodic tracks this side of the 20th century. Think Townes Van Zandt meets Pink Floyd…but in a bar off South Congress. The band’s 2020 single, “Goodbye Cool,” was released alongside a video that seemed to foretell the entire scope of the pandemic a month before it arrived. If the band’s past work can tell us anything about their upcoming release, it’s that it will be jam-packed with the kind of songs you want to listen to again and again, in every imaginable setting…

Read More »

Audiobooks: Synths Like You’ve Never Heard Before

Art student Evangeline Ling and Producer David Wrench are the brilliant duo behind the otherworldly synth-pop band, Audiobooks. Brilliantly thought out alien landscapes crafted by Wrench meet the worldly lyrics of Evangeline Ling. Throw in a touch of Wednesday Addams and a hint of Saruman the Wise and there you have it, a phenomenal band.

Read More »