Friday 30 November 2012

Michael Kiwanuka Is Showing Lots Of Soul

With his début album Home Again British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka made one of the best records in 2012 I think. It is filled with beautiful soul songs, inspired by classic soul musicians like Otis Redding. Kiwanuka's great voice is perfect for the warm songs as he proved already to me on the Rock Werchter festival this summer. I was really eager to see him perform in a club show as well.

Michael Kiwanuka at Tivoli Oudegracht Utrecht, November 24 2012

The venue sold out weeks ago and so it's a full house this Saturday night. The friendly singer and his band kick off slowly and need a few songs to warm up. The sound has a bit too much reverb to my taste and seems to keep floating in the middle of the hall. Maybe this is because of the shape of this venue. On the other hand the percussion is clearly audible in the mix, which is hardly ever the case.

Kiwanuka has gathered a great band around him who are willing to wander off on an adventure. Some songs get a different version than the one on the album. The great 'Tell Me A Tale' sounds even more thrilling and sultry than the album version. It slowly slips into a great jam. The band knows exactly when to emphasize their singer or give his voice the space it needs. That voice sounds great tonight. It's guaranteed to give you goose bumps.

Especially in the slow songs, Kiwanuka will definitely get to you. He has to be one of the most talented soul singers at this moment. Unfortunately it's the weekend and apparently for many people this show is just an excuse to catch up with their friends. The noise of people chatting is sometimes almost deafening. I actually see some people standing with their back to the stage as if they're in their favourite pub. Finally the venue becomes more quiet when he's playing 'Home Again', apparently the only song some people know. It doesn't seem to bother Kiwanuka who kindly thanks everyone several times.

Of course with only one album out there's not a lot of songs thet can play. Like more often they play the Jimi Hendrix song 'Waterfall', who would have turned 70 a few days later, and turn it into something of their own. A nice tribute for the guitar legend. So after two encores the show is really over. I'm really looking forward to new music from this great musician and hope to see him again in a sold out club that truly can appreciate his talent.

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