Live Review: Kwame + Arno Faraji + Maya Hirasedo – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne (23.02.19)

It was a late night for the Melbourne crowd who garnered the Northcote Social Club in large numbers on Saturday night, but it didn’t seem to put them off from turning out early for the opening acts.

The evening’s first opener was Melbourne local and hip-hop/pop artist Maya Hirasedo. Her set was a stunning mixture of smooth somewhat soulful vocalisations and pounding beats through the DJ who accompanied her. With much of her body of work unknown, Maya’s set was a chance to learn and hear more of Maya’s work and be won over by her flowing sound.

Maya Hirasedo

The jostling in the pit started early, with a large crowd arriving, even before Kwame’s appearance on stage, for Perth artist Arno Faraji. Having drawn inspiration from many of Australia’s rap talents, such as Remi, Arno’s flair and development was based in the staple sounds of Australian hip-hop. Having no DJ to help round out his set meant that Arno took responsibility for both roles, often heading behind the decks to make sure the set flowed with ease. Arno’s set was a pleasant one and had the crowd bouncing with the beats of “Destiny”, “Bless” and “Things Change”, not to mention a list of unreleased songs that displayed Arno’s upcoming talent.

Arno Faraji

The fierce energy leading up to Kwame’s set was nothing compared to his own. The entrance alone was a great indicator of Kwame’s on-stage force as he jumped onto the stage with zest. Unfortunately, this energy was somewhat undermined by the condition of his voice.

Kwame’s usual pep and the fight in his vocals was muted with the news that he had begun to lose his voice up in Sydney the night before. But, his stage presence and boundless energy was ever present even in the absence of his voice. The tour was focused around new single “CLOUDS” as well as his growing catalogue of hip-hop bangers. It was still an adventurous performance, as Kwame was able to overcome the lack of vocals with his crowd connectivity; at one point bringing a member of the pit up to wish them a happy birthday and have the NSC band room sing to him.

Using his ‘Like A Version’ cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” to pump the crowd back up after a quieter number was a set planners dream, as Kwame’s shift between strong power hooks and some of his softer lyric based work displayed his overwhelming songwriting ability not only able to pump out a powerful track while also being able to write creative tracks working introspective lyricism while keeping the edge of his work.

Kwame

Leading into the close of the set, Kwame list of hits, “WOW”, and his latest release “CLOUDS” jumped into set contention. As usual, “WOW” won the room, with an electric atmosphere shaking through the room and a storm of thundering feet jumping with Kwame through the pit. It was a great night, with Kwame being able to show off his skills as a musician albeit in spite of his lack of voice.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Kwame’s tour continues through to Jack Rabbit Slims in Perth on Friday March 1st, before closing up with two shows the weekend after at the Cambridge Warehouse in Newcastle. 

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