The American singer, musician and producer, Bilal performed at The Jazz Café in London on July 4, a perfect way to celebrate his national independence day! Our guest writer Rebecca couldn’t miss his gig for the world…
Last night 33 year old Philly native made an appearance at The Jazz Café. If you’re unfamiliar with Bilal, think two squirts of Prince, a dash of James Brown, a healthy dose of Maxwell in a Musiq Soulchild shot glass- an eclectic cocktail of neo-funkyness.
Jazz Café in Camden is definitely one of my favourite venues – it’s big enough to hold at least 200 people yet able to retain a level of intimacy that makes you feel like you, the artist and everyone else there is one big happy family. The Jazz Café is split over two levels with seating and a restaurant upstairs (with jerk chicken on the menu which has been known to be slightly dry but I digress) and the bar with standing area downstairs.
I had missed the supporting act (whoops) only catching a glimpse of the band before Bilal swayed onto the stage resembling a 1990’s voodoo priest from the streets of New Orleans with accompanying top-hat and circle sunglasses. After a shaky start he quickly established himself on stage and a high energy performance ensued with fair shares of falsetto and moody notes showcasing Bilal’s vocal range. Lightly theatrical is how I would describe a Bilal performance. There aren’t any gimmicks; his presence and vocal interpretation tells the story of each song so well you might as well be in the balcony of a South Bank venue. The audience consisted of a dedicated fan base with the majority in attendance knowing all the lyrics of Sometimes , with the guys behind me shouting over me ‘I love that tune’. I have only recently delved into the world of Bilal so probably stuck out like a sore thumb by my muteness and ‘lost’ facial expression at the majority of the songs.
All in all it was good performance. Not the best I’ve been to at the Jazz Café but that could have been down to me knowing much of Bilal. I would recommend him to anyone who wants a new take on the early noughties neo-soul era.
Are any of you Bilal fans? Let us know if you were at this gig, or any other one that you’d like to tell us about!