16th April 2015

Live: Kwabs

Kwabs’s support slot is rather too mysterious for impatient fans

20th March

O2 Apollo


Donning an all black turtleneck and trench coat, Kwabs steps out under moody blue lights. Subtle, cool and mysterious; his music and his image go hand in hand.

The London based singer was longlisted on Radio 1’s ‘Sound of 2015’ earlier this year and it’s not hard to see why. What he offers is a mix of soul-drenched baritone over atmospheric synths that culminate in a sound that is as unique as it reads.

Kwabs’s vocals aren’t particularly powerful per se; yet they can’t be described as vulnerable either. His voice has a warm kind of texture to it, and songs such as ‘Last Stand’ and ‘Pray for Love’ are prime examples of his raspy tones; tones which are somewhat reminiscent of Luther Vandross (minus the poorly-fitted suits, mind you).

His music doesn’t hit you in the way you’d expect; as well as the dark and dingy atmospheric electro, other parts of his material border the funk or soul category. Midway through the set, he showcases a single he wrote with the most in-demand British songwriter of the moment Jimmy Napes; the song is a soulful groove which compliments his ranges perfectly. However, his performance feels a little underappreciated by a crowd expecting commercial ballads akin to the main act Sam Smith.

It almost feels as if something is missing in parts; his stage presence is aloof and he comes across quite distant from his band. ‘Wrong or Right’ is an electro-heavy R&B number with a hook that gets a fraction of the crowd swaying; however on the whole, it’s still rather too mysterious for the impatient fans.

He redeems himself partially by covering Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Wanna Know,’ however without the arrogant pompousness of Alex Turner to bring the song to life, it falls quite flat.
He ends the gig with his biggest hit to date – ‘Walk’ – which did moderately well in the UK (appearing on the FIFA 15 soundtrack), but was a massive success on the continent (reaching number 1 in Germany), and then quite literally walks off stage to dry applause.

Given his mixed performance, it’ll be interesting to see the direction of his upcoming album Love + War. You get the feeling that the performance was wasted on the wrong kind of crowd; perhaps the Germans are a lot more subtle, cool and mysterious than us Brits.

More Coverage

Neighbourhood Weekender: Pulp, Self Esteem and CMAT triumph!

Neighbourhood Weekender is back in Warrington’s Victoria Park, hosting a legendary set from recently reunited Pulp, and standout sets from CMAT, Picture Parlour, Self Esteem and Sugababes

We can start over again? Blur reopen The Halls, Wolverhampton

A reformed Blur and a reopened venue; there was everything to adore about the indie darlings’ two-hour set.

Lytham Festival 2023: Lionel Richie, Def Leppard and lots more

Lytham Festival 2023 is headlined by Jamiroquai, George Ezra, Sting, Lionel Richie, and Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, with special guests including Blondie, Gabrielle and Kim Wilde

“Music doesn’t often go for joy, and there’s nothing more elating than humour” – In Conversation with Yard Act

Yard Act frontman James Smith talks fatherhood, the difficult second album, hip-hop and the surprising similarities between music and stand-up comedy

Copyright © The Mancunion
Powered By Spotlight Studios

0161 275 2930  University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR