Thursday 08th December

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Kenesha @ Alley Cat

| Clubs, Music, Special Events, Venues | 18/07/2014

Photograph by Martin Slidel

I rocked up at the great Alley Cat Club about eightish when unusually for live gigs the party had already started. In retrospect unsurprising as the popular Kenesha had not one but three top-level support acts. I made it in to the soulful yet gravely voice of Alex Bay for spot-on delivery of his David Gray-esque Love Never Dies. Next up was Blues singer Winston Skerritt whose gently styled speech-singing was matched by sensitive and rhythmic guitar. Terrific changes of tempo and dynamics included the slowed-down end of the hypnotic The One That Got AwayJoe Garvey’s clever and witty ramble Long Way to Fall boasted admirable articulation of otherwise tongue-twisting lyrics. This followed with what else but a down-and-dirty version of MJ’s Beat It.

Photograph by Martin Slidel

Kenesha wowed in trademark black boater and vivid orange dress. She seemed born to the stage with a natural and warm charisma. Her first number We Go Up and Down was very Tracy Chapman, though not pastiche, and closed to roars of approval. Next, the wistful and whimsical String Around the Moon showcased the artist’s beautiful balladeering. An efficient pulley to lower the celestial body and raise the spirit, its structure deceptively and effectively simple, series of melodic rounds loosely reinterpreted.

Kenesha dedicated her signature piece Hey I to her adoring fans. It’s a remarkable, emotive, and highly personal anthem to inner strength – “If I can’t fool you, I can’t fool me…” Already an underground hit, it’s something to see and hear such potential in the making. A fresh offering was Hold On, another great song befitting her fluid and sonorous vocalisations. Its Bluesy chant nicely unravelled just as it wound up, demonstrating some instinct for gentle irony. I Hate the Way told of a tug-of-war love affair transmuting to self-affirmation. A gratifying middle eight added extra colours, painting into a shining conclusion.

Photograph by Martin Slidel

Aside seriously competent strumming from Jiri Novotny, the smiling and eager cajónist Isaac K.A. looked as if he were having a ball. Why ever not because everyone else was. Brown Shoes proved a danceable ditty featuring delightful vocal ostinato in jumps of fifths. Kenesha’s strongest number to date (next to Hey I) it lodged itself into the memory as much as the shared experience of an exuberant evening.

Kenesha was joined by Wilson Skerritt and Joe Garvey for a less confident but heartily welcomed cover of Three Little Birds – the jumping and jiggling house having long since left all cares behind.

Kenesha talks exclusively to What’s On London about her new EP here.

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