MusicNorth WestReview

Michael Kiwanuka – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin

Michael Kiwanuka has come a long way since being championed by Adele in 2011, winning BBC Sound of 2012, from the release of his debut album Home Again’ to the stratospheric reception of his second album Love & Hate’ in 2016 which received nominations for Best Album from the Mercury Prize, the MOBOs, and BBC Music.

Kiwanuka is now touring the UK and the World celebrating the Love & Hate album in glorious style with a magnificent genre-defying gig accompanied by an atmospheric light show. Kiwanuka’s band are magnetic, engaging and incredibly accomplished alongside three honey-toned, soulful backing singers who support and lift each song into the stratosphere.

Kiwanuka obviously takes some inspiration from past soulful icons such as Otis Redding, and Bill Withers however, it is not a retro affectation but undeniably modern and individual. Kiwanuka occupies a musical world of his own which defies categorisation blending, funk, soul, gospel, electronica, pop, and psychedelic rock. Amongst the evening’s notable moments was the high-energy rendition of Black Man in a White World which whips the audience up in its hand-clapping blues groove, funked-up electric guitars rocking out and a light show which reflects and mirrors the frenzy of emotion. Contrast this with Kiwanuka’s paired down rendition of Father’s Child which strips it back down to the power and soul of his voice with minimal accompaniment. His voice is a gorgeous musical instrument, full of soul and power and yet a fragility and self-questioning reflected in the lyrics. His talent is undeniable.

Kiwanuka’s encore of Cold Little Heart emphasizes the skill of each member of his band as well as the gorgeous backing singers in a gospelesque choreographed light show which seems to praise the Gods of creativity and music. The epic scale of the album opener loses none of its majesty, psychedelic rock and soul in a live setting but rather feels like the appropriate blend of all that went before it into this epic 10-minute long track.

Reviewed on 17th October 2017 | Image: 


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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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  1. This was a fantastic show and exceeded our expectations. The band’s performance was so ‘tight’ rhythmically, and Michael’s voice came across so well; reminiscent of Bill Withers/Marvin Gaye/Otis Redding. I’m so glad we made the journey from Scotland, despite my currently limited mobility ?

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