Michael Kiwanuka – Wylam Brewery, Newcastle

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Michael Kiwanuka
Wylam Brewery, Newcastle
8th October 2016.

Rising star Isaac Gracie opened the night at one of Newcastle’s newest music venues, the Wylam Brewery, in a room already near capacity. It was Gracie’s third visit to the North East having already played small venues like Tynemouth’s Surf Café and it seems word has got out about the young Londoner. Although the crowd was very talkative; it seemed to be about how impressive Gracie was; as he delivered songs such as Terrified and Last Words to loud whistles of approval.

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By the time Michael Kiwanuka hit the stage there is hardly room to move, as this gig was a sell-out, with plenty of people outside offering above the odds for tickets. It literally was the hottest ticket in town with the tallest man in the room standing at the very front.

July saw the release of Kiwanuka’s Mercury Prize nominated second album Love & Hate and tonight was a celebration of that album, with first track Cold Little Heart including the long haunting introduction which silenced the crowd so you could probably hear a pin drop, opening the show tonight. As we got into the third number of Tell Me A Tale from his debut album Home Again, the band were slowly building up the tempo; but there was no room for dancing – only swaying – as sweat dripped not just from the beard of Michael but the packed audience too.
As he introduced the single Black Man In A White World Michael encouraged everyone to clap along and the crowd willingly joined in alongside the funkiest number of the evening.

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Kiwanuka was not just to play music but actually share it; but unfortunately he was put off by an avid photographer continuously shooting within touching distance of the singer. Being humble and professional offered an apology not just once but as the show carried on, which was appreciated by the crowd as they felt his emotions too. In fact, bar the few talkers in the audience, the night was quite spellbinding by the time we reached Father’s Child during which Kiwanuka left the stage; but the audience was still captivated as each member of the band took it in turn to slowly leave the room one by one.

When Michael and the band returned to the stage they couldn’t stop thanking us for being there. We were then told that there were still a few numbers left to do including a cover, which he felt appropriate with 2016 having been a ‘pretty shitty year.’
The lights changed to purple as Kiwanuka covered Prince’s ‘Sometimes It Snows In April.’ A very touching rendition indeed, leading to a few grown men around me actually shedding a tear. The performance would definitely have had Prince dancing in the purple light. The mood remained the same as the evening ended with Love & Hate, fittingly with the lyrics, “calling all the people here to see the show…give me something wonderful.”
Minus a few noted mishaps and even being a bit ‘too close’ to other gig goers, it truly was a special and wonderful night in an amazing venue.
Courtesy Guest Reviewer Victoria Ling

Photos courtesy http://137imaging.co.uk

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