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dharapatel
19th March 2023

Live review: FKJ at Manchester Academy 1

FKJ returns to Manchester Academy 1 for his 2023 UK and EU Tour bringing 90 minutes of New French House and sensational sax
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Live review: FKJ at Manchester Academy 1
Photo: John McEvoy @ Flickr

French Kiwi Juice, or better known as FKJ, is a French multi-instrumentalist, artist, and singer from Tours, France. Paving his way as a pioneer for the New French House genre, FKJ has found abundant success being one of the most exciting and electrifying multi-talented artists of this generation.

Following the second date of his 2023 UK and European Tour he played at Manchester Academy 1, in what felt like both an expansive and intimate venue setting for FKJ to continue his tour that was sold out in London, Amsterdam, and Brussels to name a few.

On the stage promptly at 9 o’clock, FKJ set the framework for what would be a magical hour and a half set with a rendition of Al Green‘s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ – adding a bold bass, repeating audio loops, and emphasising the cymbals of the drum kit, FKJ showed us the first taste of his abilities as a multi-talented artist who is not only able to play instruments but also mix songs and sing live.

FKJ’s glittering setlist of music included a plethora of live instrumentation from an electric keyboard, an acoustic piano, a drum kit, and even an electric guitar, which was introduced in ‘Losing My Way’, FKJ’s smash hit with Tom Misch. However, the electric guitar wasn’t the only star of the show. Towards the end of the song, FKJ took to the saxophone, a staple of his performances, to add his jazz-inspired touch to the track.

Another favourite of FKJ’s was ‘Risk’, a song featuring rapper Bas and a lightly strummed guitar to complete the backing of the song. The visuals on the three panel screens behind FKJ displayed images and videos of natural landscapes which complemented each of the tracks played. Every background was fit for the song.

One of the more saxophone-led songs which featured a soft and gentle saxophone being played for it’s entirety was ‘Us’, which was accompanied by trippy orange visuals on the screens behind. A true performance of a soul and jazz infused song.

From saxophone to piano, one of FKJ’s most well-known songs ‘Ylang Ylang’ came next in what can only be described as beautiful ballad of live piano. Listening to the song live makes your really understand why it’s called ‘Ylang Ylang’, namely after the star-shaped plant used in oil and aromatherapy. That’s exactly what the song felt like listening to it live – the relaxation of aromatherapy.

From the small and gentle sounds of the piano on ‘Ylang Ylang’, to the futuristically classic ‘Lying Together’, a more upbeat funk and house style song which utilised FKJ’s synthesiser skills: a special song. FKJ’s electric guitar solo got the crowd dancing and grooving on their feet as the change in tone from the previous song really reflected the genre diversity of an artist such as FKJ.

The grooviness of ‘Lying Together’ was soon replaced by the intimacy of ‘Vibin’ Out’, a song which features the slow singing of FKJ’s wife, June Marieezy. A love song at heart and for that the background panels were filled with visuals of Marieezy singing and serenading FKJ from afar, whilst he continued with live production of the song.

The penultimate song of a truly complete performance was ‘Different Masks for Different Days’, a song that brought out the raw emotions of the audience. The song featured thunder and rainfall visuals in what was a song that describes the art of masking upset emotions. Listening to the song played live with the piano and saxophone made me feel a flurry of emotions, a mix of happiness and sadness, pain and anguish, love and joy, and complete awe.

Following a huge round of applause in what looked like his last song of the night, FKJ came back for his encore and played his number one hit ‘Tadow’ which features vocals from Masego. ‘Tadow’ is a wildly seductive song which features the most famous saxophone solo from FKJ, as he took to the stage to serenade the audience for one last time in what marked a truly incredible night at Manchester Academy 1.


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