Ady Suleiman, Oslo, review: ‘a voice as sweet as spiced rum’
PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 July 2016
Having supported the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Lianne La Havas and Laura Mvula, the 24-year-old brings understated charisma to a sold out venue.
Considering the sheer graft a young artist has to put in these days, perhaps the hardest task is keeping your cool.
Take Ady Suleiman, whose colourful smudges of reggae, pop and soul have made him a blogosphere darling – so in demand from press and punters alike that he was even made to live stream the rehearsal to his sold-out show in Hackney on Tuesday.
It’s the sort of publicity blitz that could frazzle the most seasoned crooner, yet Suleiman still maintains a curious slacker charm.
Having supported the vaunted likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Lianne La Havas and Laura Mvula, the 24-year-old clearly knows his destination, even if he approaches it with the nonchalance of a Sunday stroll around Sherwood Forest.
Cloaked in an oversized Oxford shirt, the singer took to the stage through a haze of light jazz from his impeccably drilled band.
With the briefest of hellos, he launched into the sizzling ska hit Running Away, bouncing to the groove of Shaggy-esque melodies and brass overtures that characterises his latest, eponymous EP.
Across the set, a thread of unrest lurked beneath his laissez faire pleasantries with the audience.
On Drink Too Much, Suleiman laid bare the stunted etiquette of his digitised generation (“Conversation? Sorry I don’t, I’m afraid you’re out of luck”), so it was with some irony that a mellower acoustic moment was later drowned out by the murmurings of restless Hoxtonites at the bar.
A stripped down but playful cover of Protoje’s Who Knows soon regained the crowd’s attention; Suleiman ramping up the bashfulness by revealing that “when I played this on Radio 1 recently, I s*** my pants”.
By the time he returned for an encore of the lamenting soul ballad Not Giving Up, his voice – as sweet and peppered as spiced rum – was the only one to be heard.
Alongside a fine ear for a hook, this will surely be the sharpest weapon in his upcoming debut album.
Suleiman’s pick ‘n’ mix of genres is nothing new in itself, ploughing back through a lineage of everyone from Sly Stone to Jamiroquai.
But if his understated charisma warmed the room, it was the power of his soaring vocals that melted away the night.
Rating: 4/5 stars