Michael Kiwanuka at The Brighton Centre, 20th May 2022
Following the inevitable postponements that have hit almost every artist over the last couple of years, Michael Kiwanuka is finally taking his Mercury award winning album KIWANUKA out on the road. On Friday night the tour came to a packed Brighton Centre and proved, unsurprisingly, to be well worth the wait.
It only takes the first few seconds of opening track Piano Joint before the crowd is singing along, a tale of healing that seems wholly appropriate in the current environment. His vocal is, as ever, smooth and effortless, think the most chilled version of Curtis Mayfield you could imagine and you’re some way there.
Then, as the light show kicks in, he launches straight into One More Night, funk undertones joining the soulful reach from not just Kiwanuka but his accomplished band and backing vocalists, spread across the width and height of the stage in a multi-level formation. The stage at The Brighton Centre is far from small but it feels like every inch is filled with something to watch and listen to.
When the intro to Black Man in a White World begins, the room is instantly clapping along and as the show continues, his skills cross-genre are apparent, influences of blues and folk jumping into the mix seamlessly. It’s one of those performances that’s great to watch but you could equally just shut your eyes and listen for a solidly beautiful experience.
It’s not hard to see why Kiwanuka is a regular on awards nominations lists, there’s something almost unworldly about his ability to segue from track to track, changing tempo and style while holding the audience completely captive in his palm. A night full of special moments and songs set to become classics, ironic that the most unassuming artists often have the most to shout about.
Words and photos by Siobhan
23rd May 2022