Live Review: Sampha + PAULi – The Forum, Melbourne (29.05.17)

What do you get when you mix a beautiful voice, with a beautiful venue and a beautiful band? One hell of a beautiful night! UK Artist Sampha achieved just that, bringing his soulful goodness to The Forum in Melbourne last night, delivering an unforgettable performance.

Opening the night was PAULi with his soulful tones and hip hop vibe. The lights worked hand in hand with the beat drops, creating a strong energy in the room. His final track, “I Don’t Care”, proved to be popular with the crowd, making everyone throw their hands in the air. He then disappeared from the stage, and reappeared again to play the drums with Sampha, proving to be one multitalented artist to watch.

The stage went completely dark and then was illuminated with a low dim blue light, discreetly showing a three piece band looming in the shadows. Sampha appeared, a cheer ushering from the crowd, and gently started to work the keys, building the beat into “Plastic 100°C”. The delicate track mixed with the ghostly blues lights created an almost underwater like ambiance that had me torn between feeling calm and having my heart strings yanked at. His voice was beyond. Crisp. Woody. Pure.  The type of voice that sends shivers to your fingertips.

The performance was heavily influenced by his debut album Process, similarly filled with experimental sounds welded together with soft piano. Tracks like “Timmy’s Prayer”,  “Too Much” and “Incomplete Kisses”, would provoke introspective vulnerabilities for both the listener and performer. Sampha’s body movements echoing the pulsating lights on the background screen almost like an irregular heartbeat. Then on the flip side, the mood would be brought back up into a hip-hop flair with tracks like, “Reverse Faults”, getting everyone, even the band, dancing and moving.

The band was something else. Despite using an array of modern, traditional and retro percussion tools, it was as though they all formed one big drum set. A magical drum set that unleashed magical sounds. For “Kora Sings”, all four performers had a turn drumming their own part, smoothly transitioning into, “Blood on Me”, and “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano”.

For the encore Sampha stood alongside his bandmates, each wielding a drum stick around a mini kit, and launched into a climatic version of,  ‘Without,’ before ending the show with “Indecision”. The final two songs resembled that perfect blend of pop and soul that Sampha so effortlessly produces, delivering a fitting end to the night.

Over the last few years, Sampha has been an in demand featuring artist, working on tracks with the likes of Kanye West, Drake and Solange. However he has still remained somewhat ambiguous in the music world; people know who he is, but don’t really know who he is. Seeing him live, it is very apparent that he is so much more then what you’d first perceive. I went in as a, ‘Oh yeah I’ve heard some of his songs,’ fan and walked out with whole new appreciation for his music.

The final leg of Australian tour ends tonight at The Forum in Melbourne, and then Sampha heads overseas to play a string of festivals in the UK and Europe. For more information head to:


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