Michael Kiwanuka. Colston Hall, Bristol

The modern soul man. Main Hall at Colston.

I’d booked this ticket months and months back, before this project had begun, but still knowing it would be part of my birthday celebrations as its 7 days until the big 40. I adore Michael’s voice and the live session he did for 6 Music showed what a special musician he is so I was really looking forward to seeing him live.

Having been spoiled seeing so many fantastic artists in the Lantern at Colston Hall (and while we are talking about the Hall I support the decision to rename it when it reopens after refurbishment) it felt odd to be in the big main hall again. I was early as the stage times for the support act had them coming on at 7.30 to an almost empty room, which can’t have been easy for them. Their debut album is released this week, Clean Cut Kid if you want to see if they are more to your taste than mine.

Michael. Well what do I say? How many superlatives can I throw at him? His voice. Man, his voice. Soulful, fragile yet powerful and just reaches into the pit of my stomach and makes me feel. Couple that to his powerful guitar playing and an 8 piece band of superb musicians & backing singers. On his 30th birthday. And what you get is a special, memorable gig. There were moments of sheer delight, there were moments to get your groove on, there were moments to savour, moments to think, moments to move and moments to make you cry. When the crowd sang him Happy Birthday he looked genuinely touched and you got the impression the band could have riffed and improvised Black Man all night (and that we’d have let them). The staging, the lighting and the sound were all incredible, just enough to add & highlight the music. I wish I’d been able to photograph as the lighting was really gorgeous and would have resulted in some spectacular shots, but then I was too busy moving and dancing & getting lost in the music to care.

Highlights for me included Rule The World which just worms its way into me in ways I can’t explain and Father’s Child which served as the false finale. Michael left the stage first, allowing each musician to play out one by one and take the moment which was a generous and fitting move. The actual ending to Love & Hate just as perfect. Whatever words I put here won’t really do justice to the wonderful talent that is Michael Kiwanuka. Thank you for sharing your 30th birthday with us, it was magical and I wish we could do it all again.

I knew this had the makings of a special gig, I am just grateful it lived up to expectations.

15 down. 25 to go.



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