WELCOME TO MY CITY is all about showcasing the best sound of a new generation of artists from around the UK and showing love to each city they tour. Gambimi welcomed us to the intimate stage of Sunflower Lounge in the city centre of Birmingham on Tuesday the 9th of May where he headlined the show.
First to arrive the stage was Liverpool’s Sub Blue who brought his electronic soul sound and stunned the audience with his energy and tuneful vocals. The set up was classic; him a guitarist and a drummer, yet no one was prepared for the effective vocal pedal skills which were to come. This added another level to his performance and from the delighted faces and cheers from the crowd, they enjoyed what this young talent had to show and were ready for what was to come.
Next was Cardiff’s Kizzy Crawford who looks so effortlessly cool with her boho dress and acoustic guitar. Being from Wales it would be a lie to say I wasn’t especially excited to hear her as I knew she would be singing some of her songs in the Welsh language. She did this, but also transitioned from Welsh to English so effortlessly and unnoticeably, so the 99% of the non welsh speakers of the audience didn’t feel disconnect from the song. A real skill. “Golden Brown” was a highlight of her set; a song about being proud of who you are in your own skin. We were expecting a voice and a guitar, but we got so much more, including keys and loop pedals making her performance captivating and mesmerizing.
Nipah from London was up next accompanied by a guitarist playing jazzy, R&B chords. Her unique, sweet voice and the guitar was all that was needed to grab the audience’s attention. Her set was chilled and soulful and you could’ve heard a pin drop in the room as she had every member of the crowd in the palm of her hand. Manchester’s Tobi Sunmola arrives and shows off his distinctive husky voice and doesn’t hold back one bit. He offers a mixture of soulful melodies, spoken word and rap and his style really offers something new and exciting to the Hip Hop scene. “Run Free” from his album “Childhood Culture” was a standout song from his set; a really compelling performance.
As the final act of the night arrives to the stage the energy suddenly rises as fans start clapping and cheering; obviously excited to hear the headliner of the night, Gambimi. I’d heard this artist before, but tonight he was performing a stripped back acoustic set, just him and his guitarist. In the basement of Sunflower Lounge in a small dimly lit room this was a real intimate experience for Gambimi and his fans. His set included clever wordplay and beautifully balanced harmonies and when he announced that his familiar single “Waters” would be up next, the crowd yelled in excitement. He sang the song faultlessly and the crowd joined in for each chorus; the energy he created from his audience, I could’ve sworn the crowd doubled in size. You couldn’t escape the feeling of love that Gambimi and his fans shared in that room as they chanted for an encore.
What I particular enjoyed about the evening was how each artist supported each other by joining the back of the audience to listen to their fellow performers before and after their own set. You could really sense the appreciation they all had for each other’s unique talents and this was great to see.
I found the selection of artists so fascinating as they were all so different in their own way, but also complimented each other so well, proving a great artist selection by Punch Records. There was enough soul food to go around everyone in the room that night and from the reactions of the evening the audience un-doubtfully enjoyed. The night was a real success in showcasing the best of the up and coming artists in the UK and genuinely one of the best showcase style gigs I’ve ever attended.
Review by Beatrice Edwards
Photos by @jdshotyou