ThisIsWIRED has always been the first to introduce new and emerging music to the masses and this week was no exception. On Tuesday 22 August, UK Soul newcomer Jordan Rakei celebrated his sophomore album launch ‘Wallflower’ at East London’s latest members-only venue, The Curtain. Previous performers include Erykah Badu, Skepta and Chance The Rapper. Need we say more?
Step through the (naturally) inconspicuous doorway, descend into the basement, turn left through the candlelit dining room and here you find Ninja Tune’s latest underground sensation breaking through to the mainstream.
The small square bar aptly named the ‘LP’ slowly filled with bespeckled faces, while tumbler glasses quickly filled with drinks in anticipation of the night ahead. ‘Wallflower’ collaborator and previous TIW Talk host Dave Okumu manned the decks as Rakei’s main support for the evening.
And there was much to be excited about. Jordan Rakei, a New Zealand-born artist, whose previous EPs ‘Franklin’s Room’ (2013) and ‘Groove Curse’ (2014), and debut album ‘Cloak’ all created a soulful stir in London’s emerging music scene had already worked with the likes of Disclosure, Tom Misch, and Richard Spaven. Now, on his Autumn 2017 US and UK tour, the London-based artist was ready to put his own stamp on UK soul.
The anxieties and introvertedness reportedly poured into his latest album ‘Wallflower’ all seemed to melt away as he took to the stage in front of 100 curious and friendly faces – not excluding the bar staff.
And then it began. Like musical hypnosis, he led us into his hour-long set using just his distinctive vocals and his guitar. Members of the audience stood transfixed on the black and white tiling like pawns in his precious music game. Ska notes and dub sounds echoed out above our heads, while spinning disco balls heightened the hypnotic mood.
As candles burned around us, the man of the hour, together with his drummer, guitarist, bassist played a medley of songs from ‘Cloak’, ‘Wallflower’ and more.
‘Sorceress’, his latest single from ‘Wallflower’ sent his signature vibrato ringing out into the crowd as the they chanted the chorus, “You. Are. The. Sorceress” back to him.
The ever-popular Midnight Mischief went down a treat as his silky vocals gave his loyal fans exactly what they were looking for. The light funk vibe of Nerve, co-created by The Invisible’s Dave Okumu, turned onlookers to dancers in the corner of the room.
From Carnation’s hypnotic synths and deep, moody vocals to the light, crystal clarity of Tawo, Rakei held the crowd in silence with minimal effort. The soft touch of his sonic mastery and delicate vocal ability had lovers rocking and swaying as they held each other.
Always the gentleman, he introduced his band before ending on the dance-inducing Talk To Me.
And of course, no TIW event is complete without a post-gig playlist sending all-nighters into a frenzy of fancy footwork. With the headline event over, Odd Child’s producer and DJ Moon Willis took over the evening’s entertainment before DJ Melle Brown took over to send revelers partying into the early morning.