We all love surprises and we were promised one tonight. But more of this later. There was also something of an International feel to the evening with some of tonight’s acts having heritage in Sweden, Greece, India & Jamaica.
So, on to the show and after warming up (and drying off) the crowd we kick things off in traditional ILUVLIVE fashion with the winner of the last show’s open mic. Unusually there had been a dead heat between the two remaining finalists so BOTH were invited to come and perform for us tonight.
We were first treated to the superb voice of Soulful R&B diva WREH-ASHA. With her ‘Classic’ EP due for imminent release, she was due to perform two songs from that, the title track and ‘Dare To Dream’ (which are both already available on itunes) but at short notice she managed to sneak in a couple more tunes ‘Can I Love You' then 'Lazy Boy’, both performed acapella as the band set up and sang all perfectly.
She was followed by the lyrical poetry of SULI BREAKS. To say this man has a way with words is an understatement. He also has an incredible sense of humour as heard on his first poem, Love on the London Underground, a dedication to TFL (in which he managed to get in the names of nearly every tube station on the Piccadilly line) but showed his deeper, serious side on the incredibly powerful R.I.P.
It was then time for host RAS KWARME to introduce the first of this evenings main acts.
Hailing from North West London, rapper EXO is a man with real charisma & strong
presence as soon as he hits the stage. Part of the USG he has already been tipped by the likes of 1 Xtra & MTV Base and it’s easy to see why he has recently been signed with debut material coming soon. The highlight of his set for me was ‘Way back Home’ featuring vocalist Tom Prior plus his self titled track (called ‘EXO’, obviously). We will no doubt see much more from him soon.
‘Mama I’m Gonna Sing’ is the name of the current tune from our next act EJ and that’s exactly what she did, firstly off stage where only her powerhouse vocals could be heard before launching herself out in front of the crowd and getting the pure club vibe going. Two more hot dancefloor tunes followed (Predictable & Supersize) with her natural incredible energy keeping the audience captivated and loving every minute of the performance.
Getting into a cab and leaving Albert Square as the famous drum-roll kicks in can often lead to a journey to obscurity. Not so for our next act. PREEYA KALIDAS was already a well know stage and screen actress long before appearing in Eastenders but many were unaware of her musical credentials. Tonight was all about changing that. Performing tracks from her forthcoming album and looking stunning her vocals were powerful and on point. As promised we were in for a treat as ILUVLIVE favourite BABY BLUE joined her on stage for the hot track ‘Wow’ and blew up the house. As if that wasn’t enough she was joined once again by EXO who together with producer Davinche jumped on stage to perform the remix of new single ‘Love Between Us’. She truly proved to everyone that she has serious talent both as a vocalist and songwriter.
More poetry followed on the ILUVLIVE stage with GEORGE THE POET. Making a name on the scene already with rhymes on social commentary as well as taking a light hearted look at the world around him and life in general (Miss Coca Cola being a great example of this). The three poems provided a fine balance of the above, a particular favourite was #TeamUK taking a swipe at those who seem to dismiss their British roots. Clever, intelligent and thought provoking.
Nottingham’s NATALIE DUNCAN was next on stage, a lady who clearly has a unique natural talent. Usually Natalie is joined on stage by Aretha (it’s the name of her keyboard) but he house band’s keys had to do tonight, but it made no difference as her musical ability shone through. With a sultry jazz vibe to her sound, she played tracks from her forthcoming Verve records debut, including the single ‘Sky Is Falling’.
t’s been a little while since we had a dancehall artist in the house so it was time to rectify that and the man to do it was STYLO G. A man with a bit of a pedigree in the genre (he’s the son of another dancehall star Poison Chang) he has been honing his craft on the scene for almost a decade. Tearing up the stage in fine style, recent single ‘Call Mi A Yardie’ was a great closing track for the evening.
Unfortunately time restraints meant no open mic session this month but if you or you know someone that has musical ability then tell them to come along and try out next time and they could find yourself the joining the elite group of artists to grace the ILUVLIVE stage soon.
Review by Jamie Hetherington