NEWS: Michael Kiwanuka @ O2 City Hall | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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There’s no denying that Michael Kiwanuka is one of the brightest lights on the vastly talented yet maddeningly undervalued contemporary UK soul scene. Across a trio of acclaimed albums over the last decade, the 34-year-old British-Ugandan troubadour has been a persistent testimony to individualism, and he brings that talent to Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on Wednesday 18th May. From the jump, Kiwanuka’s protean ability and non-restricted approach to everything his musical tastes favour – from fuzzy indie tones to shapeshifting psychedelic flourishes and inescapable melodies – have made perhaps the most clear-cut case for why analogue textures still matter in an increasingly digital world.

Whilst the high bar set by both of his first two albums led to slightly reductive comparisons to Bill Withers and Terry Callier (Black man + supple voice + acoustic guitar = go figure), Kiwanuka’s defiant, self-titled third LP – which earned him a well-deserved Mercury win after two previous shortlistings – saw him fully come into his own. Following on from his Mercury triumph, Kiwanuka’s stirring new single, the ethereally melancholic yet indelibly exultant Beautiful Life, further builds on his well-honed penchant for vividly abstracted yet intuitively coherent songcraft. Kiwanuka’s gospel is simple yet profound: true strength of spirit springs from finding beauty in all situations, even difficult ones. Can I get an ‘Amen’?

Michael Kiwanuka plays O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Wednesday 18th May.


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