"A career-defining masterpiece."
"Thoughtful, emotional, expertly crafted and often sublime."
9/10 "A classical symphony, with shape-shifting interludes."
"A heavy soul"
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British soul singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka (born 3rd May, 1987), hails from North London, England, delivering folk-inflected soul that finds similarities with Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Terry Callier.
Kiwanuka became interested in music initially through the likes of Nirvana, Radiohead, Offspring and Blur. Although it was through Jimi Hendrix that Kiwanuka found a musician he related to on a number of levels, inspiring him to pursue his talents on the guitar. Through friends, he found the music of Bob Dylan, falling in love with his well-crafted songs and folk guitar. Through Otis Redding, he became enamoured with his soulful voice, moving on to find the music of soul and motown.
Having played in rock bands throughout school, he began mixing with the likes of Labrinth, Bashy and Chipmunk, playing session guitar for these artists, as well as jamming with other musicians. However, unable to play music that he wanted to, Kiwanuka began to write songs of his own, initially for fun as a personal outlet. However, after recording a few demos of his own songs, those around him praised his talents, encouraging him to pursue a career in music.
He travelled to the Isle of Wight, UK to record a debut EP with Paul Butler of The Bees, an album that combined rootsy-folk alongside an electric tinge with the soulful vocals of Shuggie Otis and Curtis Mayfield. "Tell Me a Tale (Isle of Wight Sessions)" came out in 2011, spurring Kiwanuka forward in his solo career. Shortly after, Kiwanuka moved to Polydor Records to continue producing his music.
In 2012, he was included in the BBC's annual poll, the 'Sound of 2012,' and was named victor in January 2012. A support slot with Adele months before helped establish him on the live music scene, He released his debut album, "Home Again" in March 2012, which was a commercial and critical success, reaching number four in the UK Album Charts, as well as fairing well in a number of other countries.
Michael Kiwanuka is one of those young artists that you can feel the greatness within him, when he sings. You just know he will go far in his career and, at least for me, feel that it is an honor to be among the first to hear him perform live, and to one day be able to say you knew him when and you knew he was going to be a legend one day.
If you enjoy the smooth soul sounds of Otis Redding and Bill Withers, you will enjoy an evening listening to Michael Kiwanuka. Watching him on stage is pretty intense as you feel every sound and take in every lyric and if you watch closely every now and then when Michael knows he has hit that perfect stride, he gets this sly little smile that seems to say he knows he has the audience in his groove, and he surely does indeed.There are no fancy light shows just love of music that makes for a great performance from Michael and his band.
If you love soul make sure you get to know Michael Kiwanuka you will be in for a great experience and if you are still unsure take a little time to listen to his single “Bones” and then imagine being in the audience as he performs with his heart and soul and takes your breath away.
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There was quite a large amount of expectational weight heaved onto the shoulders of North London soul/folk singer Michael Kiwanuka at the beginning of his career after the BBC awarded him the prestigious title of Sound of 2012. Luckily he made good on this expectation and produced a sincere, solid debut titled 'Home' with expert songwriting style and a refreshing lyrical voice.
He keeps his Iive experience notably intimate to best reflect the work found on the debut album and it is within these settings that he is able to captivate the crowds with a soulful tone and expert vocal range. Michael performs what many would consider professional suicide four tracks in as he covers 'May This Be Love' by the iconic Jimi Hendrix yet his intelligent re-imagination turns the recognisable rock classic into an alt-folk ballad. There are cheers for single 'Home Again' yet these do not match the final eruption of applause of the crowd awards this talented new artist for a brilliant live show.
This was my first time seeing MK with a full band, versus a solo/acoustic set.. and MAN was it great. Counting himself, he was a part of a six-piece outfit. His band was astounding, especially his lead guitar player.
His set rightfully focused on newer material, as he hasn't been around in a minute - and he FINALLY has a new album due out at the end of next month.. so he was excited to test out his new material in front of an NYC-crowd.
Michael's voice has grown to be a little more raw, and his beard & 'fro a great deal larger than the last time I saw him.
After seeing he and his band play last night, I can't wait for the new album to drop - I'm sure it'll have proven itself worthy of the wait!
Great Show! I think Michael Kiwanuka's promoters should promote this show as "Prepare to have a Spiritual Experience". Nothing religious or anything like that - just transcendental, cos that's how you'll feel - his music sends you on an unexplained transcendental high, even though you are very much sober.
Speaking of which, this comment is for that group downstairs in the crowd who decided to ignore other people's right to enjoy a smoke-free show and chose to Light Up on the night, sending Marijuana smoke to all of us standing high on the first landing/balcony - "Not cool Dudes, so not cool!"
Thanks Michael for an amazing night!
It was a great concert. When everybody was in the building, he started to play a lot of his new songs, which was great. Also the older songs he played sounded very good. At the end 2 songs extra. The band was very good en the had lots of fun. Next week when his new album will be released, i'll looking forward to hear it.
Michael was fantastic! However, I thought the sound was not as good as it could have been. It seemed like the back up vocals were louder than Him. It could have been where we were sitting in the balcony, but there were times when his voice, which is SO amazing, was drowned out by the band.
He was outstanding he has a velvet voice absolutely fantastic artist lied it so did my friends my son told me Michael Kiwanuki and the band loved doing the gig because my son works with Michael Kiwanuki will be going to see him anytime I can love him
Tight and soulfull.
Fabulous singer and funky band.
Good venue with excellent sound.
He played almost entirely songs from the new album with one or two from his debut. This worked well and it was great to hear the new songs without strings.
An outstanding show with a powerful and charismatic performer. In addition his band were superb, each member seemed to be an accomplished and empathetic musician. The songs from the latest album were greatly enhanced in being performed live.
Absolutely amazing concert, he did all the songs from his album "love and hate" perfection! His band are fantastic musicians, thoroughly enjoyed.
Tha support act Bedouin was brilliant too, an incredible crisp sound to her voice
Pavilhão Rosa Mota
Auditorio Palacio De Congresos Mar De Vigo
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Michael Kiwanuka is not due to play near your location currently - but they are scheduled to play 4 concerts across 4 countries in 2024-2025. View all concerts.
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Michael Kiwanuka review – patience is golden
Cambridge Corn Exchange This most unassuming of soul stars has had to wait a long time to tour his lushly produced eponymous album, and his return brings blissful escape
C lad in a stripy Technicolor dream jacket redolent of Joseph, Michael Kiwanuka shuffles on stage, buffeted by the celestial oohings of his backing singers. “To begin again,” he breathes on Piano Joint (This Kind of Love) , “maybe win again.”
The colourful stripes are the loudest thing about Kiwanuka or, indeed, much of this gig; the prospect of his victory sounds tentative rather than certain. This is a long-awaited show by one of Britain’s least showy stars, a soul man of international renown, whose downplaying of everything has been his strongest suit, beginning again.
Of all the tours put on ice for the pandemic, this one feels like it’s had the most protracted of spells in limbo. Released in November 2019, the singer-songwriter’s Kiwanuka album won the Mercury prize in 2020 for its portrait of a wistful and frustrated artist finally coming home to himself, set against a backdrop of lush orchestrations with the shootings of young black men in the US baked into the percussion . (It was also nominated for a Grammy.)
In early 2020, with a tour of the album just beginning, Kiwanuka contracted laryngitis. By the time he was better, the world had stopped. The 2021 Kiwanuka tour reboot was again pushed back, to 2022. (Stormzy’s Heavy Is the Head has had a similar stop-start trajectory, but was released a month later and its tour wrapped more than a month ago.) In the background, the wheel of life ground resonantly on. Kiwanuka featured the sampled words of John Lewis, the civil rights leader and US congressman . Crackly recordings explained the non-violent sit-ins activists conducted in the 60s in then segregated diners, with Lewis highlighting the imperative to “keep loving” those who refused him service. Lewis’s death in July 2020 was especially painful in the context of the new civil rights struggle unfolding in tandem with Covid.
There were births as well as deaths. Kiwanuka confirmed another star: producer Inflo, who later released a succession of exquisitely tooled protest records as Sault and produced albums by Little Simz, his close associate Cleo Sol and, latterly, several tracks of Adele’s 30 . Listening again to Kiwanuka , you can hear the series of Sault signatures in embryo in the arrangements, interludes and segues. Choirs gust in, string sections swoon, the ghost of composer and arranger David Axelrod flaps about. It would be incorrect to credit the elegiac set-dressing up to Inflo alone: US super-producer Danger Mouse worked in tandem with Inflo, Kiwanuka and the Bees’ Paul Butler to create a sound world steeped in period warmth, whose depth of field is one of its strongest suits.
Going to a gig in the expectation that it will sound like the record has usually been a fool’s errand. But Kiwanuka and his six-strong band deliver a set so classy and all-enveloping it is almost amniotic, complete with interludes, pregnant pauses and passages when the band just lock into a kind of rapt collective Kiwanuka dream state. The lights, arranged in a series of curves and arches, suggest a gently dazzling series of cocoons; everything looks, sounds and feels a faded sort of burnt-umber-going-on-tan. For the most part, Kiwanuka and his tight, nimble band are backlit in the haze of the smoke machine, standing in for all those period-perfect carcinogens.
Naturally, he plays the hits from his other two albums. There’s a lively clap-along for his best-known calling card, Black Man in a White World , from 2016’s Love & Hate , an album that prefigured the African-inspired cover art and the “I won’t change my name” vibes of Kiwanuka , in which this Londoner of Ugandan origin embraced his background and his out-of-time musical tastes. There are hoots of recognition too for the song that first put Kiwanuka on the map, the bruised folk-soul of Home Again , from 2012.
But the focus remains on the expertly recreated sound of Kiwanuka , with the ersatz strings and horns marshalled by keyboard player Steve Pringle sufficiently dramatic to pass muster. Solid Ground begins as a series of oscillations and a Lewis sample; Kiwanuka accompanies himself on keys. Later, his vocals and the synth strings answer each other and the band finally come in, Michael Jablonka’s electric guitar cutting through like an angry wasp. Jablonka never puts a finger wrong, trading solos elsewhere with Kiwanuka that pull off the difficult trick of recalling Jimi Hendrix while being studiedly unostentatious; his west African motifs are one of the best things about one of Kiwanuka’s greatest songs, You Ain’t the Problem.
If you had to pick a bone, it would be that for all Kiwanuka’s extensive record collector tastes – his really early stuff sounds like Terry Callier – a few songs feel as if they are just a key change away from being Crazy by Gnarls Barkley (AKA Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green). At any second, it feels as if the stark acoustic start of Hero might morph into Hendrix’s All Along the Watchtower.
But it never does. Instead, Kiwanuka’s warm and weary questioning powers up magnificently into a full-band crescendo – its suddenness and loudness landing an unexpectedly impactful blow in the context of a velvet glove of a gig.
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