It’s rare that such a venue like the ABC in Glasgow hosts a gig these days that automatically blows the audience away. To fill that void is no easy task for just any musician and sound engineers, as has been proven with recent concerts but Michael Kiwanuka with his smooth, soulful, dulcet tones and band were more than capable of doing precisely that, leaving their audience enraptured.
Having only recently played Glasgow in Autumn late last year, in the Art School, prior to an unbelievable amount of award nominations and wins, it is pretty amazing to witness how far Mr Kiwanuka has come in such as short space of time. His vocals are his stalwart and his band ain’t that bad either. With percussion, drums, bass and electric guitar as well as gospel backing vocals this man is spoiled for talent on this very stage, which transcends. Our ears are kindly hugged in the process.
His album Love & Hate came out in the summer of 2016 and has seen number 1 in the UK, delivering a sold out gig tonight and a wildly diverse anticipated following. At one point he shares this success, encouraging those with a musical incline to make music, writer music and record music, as he hints at what it has done for him. He began writing his own songs quietly at home, just for fun. They were not intended for other people to hear. However, he recorded some demos, in the hope of giving to others to perform. But he was surprised to find that people loved his voice, and he was encouraged to play some small gigs. And finally, he found his place in the world, which is clear from the moment he charismatically hits the stage to the rapturous applause he receives after the encore for an hour and a half of near flawless melodic soul.
Support, Clean Cut Kid, were technically sound, albeit dragging us back a couple of decades with their power ballads and synth, and unusual stage dynamic. They certainly did not brace us for Kiwanuka and band strumming out their evocatively dark Cold Little Heart, followed by bluesy One More Night, contemplative Falling, and the ever-so-successful, Fela Kuti reminiscent, Black Man in a White World, where he enthused the Glasgow crowd to rhythmically clap along.
Concluding his set with Home Again before predictably bursting into the well-loved album title track, Love & Hate, it was clear that Kiwanuka was in Glasgow to promote this acclaimed album. It was also clear from the audience that this had no averse effect, with many in awe of this musician’s infallible talent.