Gig rating: 5/5
If were we to just have Paul Bender’s bass, Simon Mavin’s keys and the percussion of Perrin Moss we’d still be treated to an outstanding feat of polyrhythmic neo-soul with a fantastic light spectacle. Throw Nai Palm into the mix and you have something seriously special.
Kaiyote’s hiatus from gigs abroad came to an end with the Australian band performing at the 02 Shepherd’s Bush in London on November 11th 2019. They are one of those bands that fans constantly crave more from having rinsed through Tawk Tomahawk (2012), Choose Your Weapon (2015) and Nai Palm’s solo album Needle Paw (2017). In 2018 however, singer Naima (Nai Palm) announced her diagnosis with breast cancer and the band’s period of releases and tours came to an understandable halt.
Nai Palm announced this on Instagram, saying: “I say this to you hoping that you won’t expect so much of me all the time. I am a strong mother fucker but I feel everything deeply.”
Her words allude to the detrimental pressure some fan-bases can place on artists in a consumerist world that constantly needs more to consume. Hiatus Kaiyote are just one of the victims of this culture.
However, on the 11th November, they returned to London and reminded us all how fantastic they are. After great opening sets from DJ duo Touching Bass (Errol and Alex Rita) and New Zealand-born Myele Manzanza, Hiatus Kaiyote came on stage. Opening on a synthesiser-heavy introduction, to tumultuous applause, they then proceeded to bring out some of their old classics in ‘Laputa’ and ‘Mobius Streak’ before a fully packed audience in Shepherd’s Bush.
The light show needs credit as well, adding the icing on the cake and making the gig a spectacle for the eyes as well as the ears. The euphoria of the show culminated in a middle patch of three of their hits in a row: ‘Molasses’, ‘Borderline With My Atoms’, and ‘Breathing Underwater.’ The lights reflected the latter suitably with blue beams.
The controlled chaos of Kaiyote’s rhythms are both enthralling and dance-inducing, with the bass, drums and keys as tight as any jazz quartet’s rhythm section could dream of being. Nai Palm’s vocals speak for itself, with few soul singers matching her in today’s scene. Her melodies are at times haunting (such as tunes like ‘Malika’ and ‘Boom Child’) and her technique and wide vocal range is reminiscent of the likes of Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu.
Hiatus Kaiyote gave us hit after hit like ‘Boom Child’, ‘Atari’, and ‘By Fire’, each one played with both the electronic sound from the studio and the vibrancy of live jazz.
Nai Palm thanked the crowd and band-mates and Kaiyote made their way off stage, with certain tracks yet to appear. Naturally, the encore that commenced gave the audience what was needed in ‘The Lung’ and ‘Nakamarra’.
Kaiyote gives us both audio-visual electronic spectacle and the elation that comes from jazz, soul and hip-hop. Their return to London was a welcome one, with further concerts being at Chile and their home of Australia in upcoming months. One can only hope that we are soon given more material from the neo-soul group but, as Nai Palm explained in her Instagram post, artists need time and space to create their art. It should not take cancer for fans to reel in the pressure they put on artists.
“Let my music comfort you, this is what its for,” Nai Palm says, ‘my job ends there, I am not a therapist.’
You can keep up-to-date with Hiatus Kaiyote via the links below: