A truly lovely spring evening settled in on the night Kwabs was set to play the famous Thekla, which is actually a venue converted from a moored boat in Bristol. It wasn’t cold, and with everyone getting used to the sun staying up past 8pm it made for a perfect opportunity to grab a beer or two and sit out on the deck of the boat under the lights. It was almost too good a setting for the evening of music that was about to come.
Support act, Honne, were a wonderful choice to precede Kwabs, so kudos to whoever made that decision. The futuristic soul of Honne’s synth matched the dimly lit, darkened underground vibe of Thekla. The tracks on their latest EP, All In The Value, lulled the audience perfectly, whilst fan favourite The Night went down even better. Emotive and unique, it was the song of the set.
Kwabs’ entrance was met with raucous applaud which filled the intimate hull. The low ceilings and darkness were met with restrained stage lighting and a trembling velvet voice. His sometimes sombre, sometimes faster, tempo jazz and soul sound fused with modern synth and intricate production which came song after song in waves. We were met with old classic Wrong Or Right, produced by SOHN, as well as new tracks from the album, the stand out of which was probably the dark and moody Look Over Your Shoulder.
The audience was also treated to a rework of Arctic Monkey’s Do I Wanna Know? which was truly fantastic, stirring a flurry of true delight amongst listeners as a slowed down, soulful version of the indie anthem rang out confidently and strong, not a flaw to be heard. Kwabs remained calm, composed and almost intimidatingly powerful throughout, seemingly unaffected by the stuffiness below deck in his black turtleneck and suit jacket.
Track of the night without a doubt was latest single, Perfect Ruin. To hear such a powerful and emotional song performed in such close quarters, with flawless execution and emotional commitment, was a phenomenally moving experience. After this incredibly intense emotional high, a few songs followed before set closer. Walk, which was arguably his most popular track. The high tempo percussion and story of determination almost had the crowd strutting home afterwards. There’s no doubt everyone will be talking about their night on the boat for weeks to come, and there’s only a matter of time before that voice is filling stadiums, not just old vessels moored on the Bristol harbour.