Micheal Kiwanuka is worth the hype
**** (4 stars out of 6); April 27 at Lille Vega
I first heard of Michael Kiwanuka late last year when he appeared on Jools Holland's show, performing a mellow version of 'Tell Me A Tale’, the first track off his only studio album. What struck me more than anything else about the London-born musician was the sheer weight and power of his voice, which led me to draw immediate comparisons with ‘60s sensation Otis Reading. Kiwanuka has come a long way since that performance, winning the prestigious BBC Sound of 2012 award earlier this year on the basis of a solitary album, the highly-hyped Home Again, joining the likes of Adele, Ellie Goulding and Mika, all of whom have previously won the award. His debut on Danish soil on Friday night was a show to remember, an experience that makes it easy to see why he is so highly revered within music circles at the moment.
Kiwanuka and his backing band stepped cooly and confidently onto the stage at Lille Vega on Friday, opening the proceedings with several mellifluous tracks off Home Again. His vocals are well and truly the stuff of legend and blended seamlessly with his toned-down instrumentation, which amplified his stage presence in the traditional singer-songwriter fashion. Conversely, more dance-friendly grooves, such as the jazzy 'Bones’, featured a lot more instrumentation and a lot less of Kiwanuka's poignant, slow-paced vocals, giving more of a Friday-night feel to things. What followed was an intense blend of compelling, emotional moments for the better part of the show, punctuated by breaks of soulful brilliance.
Whilst songs off Home Again were pretty much the order of the day, Kiwanuka did do a Jimi Hendrix cover towards the end of the show, citing him as one of his boyhood inspirations. As expected, the highlight of Friday night's entertainment came right before the close of the proceedings, as Kiwanuka performed ‘Home Again’, the eponymous single off his album that has captured the hearts and souls of many music lovers the world over. This track alone is a sheer revelation, though Friday's show proved that there's a lot more to Michael Kiwanuka. This is a young man with tremendous potential, endearing humility and a very bright future. His best work is surely still to come and one can only look forward to his future releases.