Kelela at All Points East: A hypnotic, intimate performance evoking sweaty nights on a sunny afternoon
PUBLISHED: 18:43 28 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:37 29 May 2018
Jordan Curtis Hughes
As Kelela appears out of the West Arena’s shadowy backstage, sporting a white robe that wouldn’t look out of place on a priestess, the crowd’s rapturous reaction suggests it knows what to expect.
But for any unitiatied, opener LMK served as a statement of intent: clipped, electronic stabs, stark basslines and powerful vocals. Kelela moves elegantly around the stage, matching the sound with exultant movements and cutting, sudden glances. Producer Jam City’s contributions, here performed by a stand-in with a laptop, mix textured synth-beds and crisp, surgically-deployed beats and samples. The stage is unadorned, the minimal lighting at points giving way to a single spotlight.
The dark, close atmosphere, shaded from the bright summer’s day, matches the claustrophobic production and the confessional, late-night feel of the lyrics, which range from descriptions of romantic miscommunication to those of sweaty, physical reconciliation.
Between songs Kelela is exceedingly, sincerely grateful and towards the end even quips: “If I weren’t brown, I’d be blushing.”