As the rapturous applause dies down after the crowd hears it’s the singers 30th birthday tonight, there is an air of joy and admiration for a man that possesses a voice and charm so authentic, you feel privileged to witness.
The venue is plunged into darkness, in that way that signals the start of something special, the stage is floodlit by glowing lamps and thin smoke. In perhaps an overly dramatic manner, the keyboard player enters first playing the opening to last year’s ‘Love & Hate’ opener, ‘Cold Little Heart’, for what feels like too long, until Kiwanuka enters.
What’s somewhat surprising is Michael Kiwanuka’s ferocity and power these days. ‘Love & Hate’ felt like a man released, giving it his all, and tonight was just that. Song highlights include the epic ‘Cold Little Heart’ and ‘One More Night’, an upbeat and beautifully delivered piece of soul-goodness. His guitar playing is biting and just as present as his voice. A voice full of strength, yet compassion. Tonight feels like a balance between seventies nostalgia, (from which he would be too young to remember, but can acknowledge) and soul music for the present and future.
Perhaps the most poignant highlight tonight was what also felt the most important. Kiwanuka singing ‘Black Man In A White World’ in a hall that is about to have its name changed because of its inappropriate association is just too good to not think about. Respect.
Support came from Liverpool quartet, Clean Cut Kid, who played songs from their debut album ‘Felt’. Michael Kiwanuka along with nine piece band in tow, deliver a fluidly spectacular performance tonight that leaves the crowd grinning from ear-to-ear.
Check out ‘Love & Hate’ right here: