Sauti Sol leave the crowds in awe and wanting more during their sold-out UK residency.
After two delays due to the ongoing global pandemic, Kenya's Sauti Sol finally kicked off their first live show in two years.
A week ago, I was in Heaven.
I had the pleasure of attending night 2 of the band's sold out UK residency.
I thought I was ready.
Yet nothing could have prepared me for the sheer brilliance of Sauti Sol, live, in front of my very eyes, serenading my very ears.
Kenya's finest and African musical royalty, Sauti Sol are an award-winning, Afro-pop band, famous for their rich instrumentals, acapella sounds, catalogue of hits and energetic live performances.
The Band's sold-out residency at the Jazz Cafe in Camden, as well as additional dates in London and Manchester, followed months (and then a few more weeks) of anticipation.
As a venue for the majority of the shows, the Jazz Cafe allowed for the right balance between large crowd and intimate setting. The vibes started off right, with DJ Edu playing tunes from across the continent, including Africa-wide classics such as Magic System's 'Premier Gauo', and more recent songs such as Burna Boy's 'Ye'; followed by the smooth tones of Chris Kaiga, performing his hit single 'I Want' before supporting the band on the keys.
After a solo instrumental from guitarist Fancy Fingers, Sauti Sol kicked off with the melodic and fittingly-titled 'Intro' before launching into 'Midnight Train' (one of my favourite songs), and both from their latest album of the same name. The audience participation was instantaneous, and this set the tone of the rest of the night. Hit after hit, met with jubilant crowd support, from 'Insecure' to 'Short N Sweet', to 'Melanin' to another one of my absolute favourites, 'Kuliko Jana'. I felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to hear this melodic prayer sang live. 'Kuliko Jana's Kiswahili lyrics truly speak to the soul, asking Jesus to 'love me more today than yesterday'. I felt emotional during this performance, these lyrics truly resonated with vocalist Bien-Aime rightly terming this new chapter in the world as one of restoration.
The night was interwoven with classic and new hits, 'Live and Die in Afrika' reminding us 'nowhere be like Africa', lipala dance lessons to 'Sura Yako', and with hot track 'Suzanna' pulled up and restarted, much to the crowd's joy. From Chimano's baritoned voice and energetic dance moves, Savara's smooth vocals and impressive multi-tasking on percussion, to Bien-Aime's soulful sounds and Fancy Fingers impeccable artistry, Sauti Sol's return to live performing after two years was simply sensational.
The instrumentals were electric and flawless - transporting us all to Nairobi with every beat. The atmosphere was exuberant, from start to finish, from artists and audience alike. It felt like a reunion amongst a family of fans, many of whom were meeting for the first time. A juxtaposition I am sure, but I sang and danced all night with both friends and with strangers.
At the end of the night, as chants of 'Sauti Sol' rained across the crowd, the band returned to thrill the audience with one last song, and equally energetic performance. What struck me was just how much the band sounded like their records and recorded live performances, a comment made by a number of people.
We all seemed to leave the Jazz Cafe in a joyful daze.
I cannot accurately describe the feeling, but I am sure it included a combination of joy, happiness, excitement, contentment and awe. All of those feelings meshed into one.
I felt like I was floating as we paused outside to discuss the brilliance we had just witnessed, analysing what we had just experienced, sharing our favourite moments and, of course, how journeying to their homeland of Kenya was a must.
The music of Africa continues to take over the world and as I have previously said, people are now seeing and hearing what we have known our whole lives. In the diaspora, this was previously dominated by West African artists, so it is fantastic to see the East Africa's finest sell out all five of their UK headlined shows, and with an audience representation from all over Africa and in fact, all over the world. Yet with our differences, we were brought together by Sauti Sol, their art and their talent.
So, if you ever have the opportunity to see Sauti Sol live, do not hesitate - book those tickets and thank me later.
And to Sauti Sol, thank you for sharing your gift with the world, and for making Africa proud. Thank you for persevering despite the delays and postponements. And thank you for bringing us so much joy.
Asanteni sana sana sana.
❤️💛 💚Africa to the 🌍!!!