This was my second visit within a few weeks to Cardiff’s newest
major city-centre concert venue, The
, and it was a transcendent experience.
First up was a solo set by youthful, lank-haired troubadour Isaac
Gracey, whose folk-tinged, electric and acoustic guitar-led balladeering went
down very well. His original material was pleasingly melodic, and delivered in
a strong, confident voice – he did mention that his only previous visit to Cardiff
was on a choir tour. There were also a couple of Bob Dylan covers, in tribute
to the great man’s long overdue recognition by the Nobel Prize committee.
Headliner Michael Kiwanuka’s act kicked off in the same way
as his new album, with the lengthy, keyboard-led, Pink Floyd-inflected introduction
to “Cold Little Heart”, which cleverly set up the tone of his set, dominated as
it was by extended, atmospheric extemporisations.
Music industry marketing being what it is, Kiwanuka is
tagged as a “soul” singer - and his voice comes across somewhat more powerfully
than it does on record - but what his five-piece backing band (including two
drummers) delivers is as much influenced by robust Dylan-esque
singer-songwriters and classic rock as by Ray Charles. Their exuberance mitigates
the melancholic tone of the “Love and Hate” album, and the collective mood is a
celebratory one, as exemplified by the jubilant response to “Black Man In A
White World” from the overwhelmingly Caucasian capacity crowd.
There were relatively few songs from his brilliant first
album, “Home Again”, but “Tell Me A Tale” received the psychedelic wig-out
treatment (although the absence of jazz flute was a shame). The encore
comprised a deeply moving version of Prince’s “Sometimes It Snows In April”,
and a rousing, sing-along rendition of the new album’s title track.
Labels: cardiff., concert, gig, kiwanuka, music, review, tramshed