Live Review: Sampha // O2 Academy, Bristol – 28.03.17

After headlining his own shows and supporting fellow Young Turks’ talismans The xx on their recent tour across the globe, Sampha Sisay is a name spreading around the world like wildfire.

Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut studio album Process last month, Sampha has embarked on a homecoming tour of the UK this month that has seen him take in the sights of a select few lucky cities.

After playing to Birmingham’s O2 Institute on the 26th, the soulful Sisay travelled down to Bristol to the O2 Academy, ahead of visiting familiar scenery at the Roundhouse and entertaining his fellow Londoners. We were there to catch him midway through this short but sweet tour – and how lucky we were!

Providing support for the night was Pauli, whose soulful R&B sound – complete with distorted guitar and synth-y keyboard accompaniment – was a real sight to behold thanks to tasteful drum machine usage and an impressive strobe lighting rig.

Then Sampha and his backing band took to the stage, immediately creating an ethereal atmosphere through a cacophony of sound which melted seamlessly into Plastic 100°C. Then came more Process tracks in the form of fan-favourite Timmy’s Prayer – which received a raucous reception – followed by Reverse Faults and Under, prior to older material in Happens.

Next came Sampha’s 2013 solo version of Too Much, the hook of which featured earlier that year on Drake’s album Nothing Was The Same. A return to choice cuts from his recent release came through Take Me Inside and Incomplete Kisses.

The Bristol crowd were then treated to a trio of real performance highlights; through the percussion masterclass of Kora Sings, to a slightly altered and extended Blood On Me and a gorgeous rendition of (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano – with a single tiny exposed bulb floating down from the ceiling to cast a gentle light on Sampha as he created a unique sense of intimacy for all present.

Following a short break, Sampha and his three live backing members returned to congregate around a single drum set in a powerful performance of Without – that brought the place to fever pitch – before bowing out and bidding Bristol farewell.

Words by Jonno Mack

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Jonno Mack

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