Kele Okereke at Islington Assembly Hall
What better way to spend a Wednesday night than listening to the soft folk sound of Kele Okereke inside the Islington Assembly Hall. For those of us who were seeing the British musician live for the first time, it was surprising to observe how different and intimate the whole experience would turn out to be.
Standing in the middle of a bare stage, acoustic guitar in hand, Okereke started with some of his brand new songs from the album Fatherland. Among them You Keep on Whispering His Name and Do You Right seemed to speak directly from experience, and reflected the vulnerability of the individual approaching a relationship.
With this up close and personal tone, so far from the original indie rock that dominated his Bloc Party years – and the dance beats of The Boxer and Trick – he set the night’s spirit, clearly centred on his latest work: a mix of soul, guitar chords and a lot of nostalgia. The audience had also the delight of enjoying some of his oldest pieces, such as Tulips and This Modern Love, as well as covers of some of the music that made him become the artist he is today. Sweet Female Attitude’s Flowers and Bob Marley’s Redemption Song were particularly captivating, joined by sweet memories of Okereke’s history, including one that involved long car rides during the summer time.
During the encore there was a particularly special moment: the singer-songwriter played Savannah, dedicated to his daughter who was born last year. Fatherland is a statement to the artist’s maturity and an open door to his feelings and experiences with love, family and life. His shaky voice and the guitar-only percussion made for a close conversation with the frontman, who seemed to have found himself and reflected that honesty with his music. Of the new material Road to Ibadan was the highlight.
The show reached its peak and point of full catharsis during the second half, where not only the audience but also the singer himself seemed more engaged and “in tune” with the sounds and the general feeling in the room. He closed the concert with Sunday from A Weekend in the City.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information and future events visit the Kele Okereke website here.
Watch the video for Streets Been Talkin’ here: