Michael Kiwanuka is a relatively recent addition to my musical consciousness, but the extensive world tour he is embarking on tells me I should pull my head from the sand. His sold-out gig at the Wylam Brewery told me more.
The band, consisting of percussion, drums, bass, electric guitar, organ and Michael on guitar(s) and vocals was unfalteringly professional and absolutely on the button, creating an atmospheric and gently rocking platform upon which Mr Kiwanuka stepped with a complete and awe-inspiring performance.
A man of few words, he let his voice do the talking (if you know what I mean), his sound reminded me of the great 60s soul singers; Otis Redding or Sam Cooke, but his style is very different. The feel is more folk rock than soul, occasionally sounding almost like Otis Redding fronting the Fleet Foxes – hard to pigeonhole, which is exactly how I like my music.
Some clever chord progressions and interesting extended live loops gave the songs space and allowed Kiwanuka to fully express his vocal prowess. I was surprised he gave us Black Man in a White World so soon in the set, although it was apt, looking around the room; he ended with the stunning Love & Hate, which finally silenced the noisy crowd, holding them spellbound and enthralled. Michael Kiwanuka is a class act and should be an addition to your musical consciousness too. He is playing at the Sage in April, so no excuses!