The last time we caught up with Samm Henshaw he was supporting James Bay at Manchester Apollo. Last night we enjoyed watching an artist who has learned a thing or two from big stages, Samm played o2 Academy Brixton with confidence, soul and sass. An artist who has grown even more into his own, fine tuning The Sound Experiment – Samm and his band had the crowd dancing from start to finish.
Slave is a strong opener and huge crowd pleaser. The delicate balance of grit and soul in Samm‘s voice is delightfully soothing. Next Samm introduces his band The Sound Experiment (also the name of his EP). He seems genuinely surprised the crowd are familiar with his next song, Redemption. Only Wanna Be With You is bold and moving. And Better leaves the crowd lifted, with everyone swaying left to right in unison.
Tori Kelly is not really a festival artist. Especially not on the UK circuit. So we had to venture to o2 Academy Brixton to find out what we have been missing. Tori opens with Where I Belong (riffs for days). Next the singer shows off her pop-star charm with Unbreakable Smile. Tori is pretty underrated in the mainstream media here. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t carry that American super-star stereotype. She’s VERY talented, but also very authentic.
Next is proper pop song Expensive, Don’t need no diamonds on my body Got no greed in my eyes. A feel good song with a good message. Tori then falls into much cooler track Anyway. There’s some hand on hip action and stage strutting, but apart from that – no crazy dance production. Tori Kelly doesn’t need it, she’s styled down and looking super hot anyway.
The next track, Nobody Love, is a little bit Jessie J. Not sure whether that’s positive or negative, we’ll let you decide. One thing that’s clear is Brixton has welcomed world class talent tonight. God bless America! Tori strips things down again for Heartbreak, but it’s hard to feel raw emotion when every note is so note perfect. The emotion in Tori‘s performance comes from her relationship with the guitar. She strums some beautiful chords on Beautiful Things. And this is 100% authentic.
Things get even MORE real in the night’s biggest plot twist where Tori Kelly shouts out her YouTube fans. It’s pretty apparent to us that tonight’s crowd have been here for Tori since day one. And Tori feels it too as she emotionally admits, this is one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever played. Her cover of Frank Ocean’s Thinking ‘Bout You is one of the night’s biggest highlights.
Tori returns to her own material, singing beautifully about her own experiences with fame (American Idol), love and heartbreak. Highlights include Talk where the singer seems to be letting go of a lot of real emotion. And Dear No One, with the bass line sounding banging.
Tori‘s encore is met by mad applause, especially during Should Have Been Us. Downtown in a thick crowd. But it’s just you that my mind is on. Tori convinces us this has been one of the best night’s of her life. She leaps off the stage showing real love to her fans. We love you Tori Kelly, come back to the UK more often!
Download Tori Kelly‘s album Unbreakable Smile here.