Review by Hayley Clark

Whilst the majority of the UK were going crazy at their TV screens cheering on their heroes against Columbia, KOKO London presented a different kind of hysteria with five time grammy winner Lalah Hathaway opening Innervisions Festival.

With support from local lad Joel Culpepper, the crowd went wild to his distinct sounds and funk filled dancing. Dressed in black tassled shirt and yellow trousers Joel’s smooth moves glided across the stage accompanied by his band as the crowd clapped and cheered.

The South East Londoner opened with ‘My Father’s Son’ from the newly released ‘Tortoise’ EP and wowed the audience as he treated them to more. Likened to a British version of Outkasts Andre 3000 ‘My First Kill’ and ‘Woman. highlighted his impressive vocals in the seven song set, leaving the crowd to a mass of cheers.

The venue fell into darkness as the emotion picture ‘Honestly’ graced the large KOKO screen with a funky drumming beat coming out from the darkness of the stage. As the spotlight came up revealing 8 year old Geneva London the crowd went wild. The YouTube sensation kept the audience enthralled as she kept the beat as her smile beamed accross the stage, the youngster is one to watch out for in the next few years.

DJ Spark was up next to get the crowd moving. Following on from gaging the audiences ages, a mix of mainly 80’s and 90’s babies with a few 70’s and 60’s thrown in for good measure she stimulated the audience playing throwback jams and non stop grooves.

Previously the official tour DJ for the likes of Kelly Rowland, Teddy Riley and Omarion, her craftmanship on the wheels of steel are second to none, she’s at the top of her game and easy to see why she is a perfect accompaniment to any tour. I mean how many times do you go to a gig and not only is there a dance off on stage but the DJ had the whole venue grooving to Cameo’s ‘Candy’ in the stalls.

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Cries and cheers filled the room as the band entered the stage followed by Lalah dressed in glitter adorned jeans and white jumper. Looking amazing in her casual look the soulful songstress immediately acknowledged the wonderous crowd…”How You Doing London?”

Goosebumps filled the audience as her charisma shined through from the moment she started singing, her harmonies were on point and KOKO was in for a treat. The crowd stared in awe as Lalah graced the stage with her presence, her vocals as strong as ever with ‘Change Your Life’, ‘Baby Dont Cry’ and cover of father Donny’s ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’.

As she swayed on the stage, a beaming smile shining lit up the performance as she introduced “Diva Geek” onto the stage to share the limelight. Lead singer Vula Malinga rocked the crowd with her smooth sounds in ‘Give It To Me’ and firing up the crowd about the football scores. Declaring how awesome she thought Lalah was for bringing her and guitairist Ben to share the spotlight and how grateful they had been to work alongside her with some new tracks the appreciation was extremely mutual and connection electrifying between the ladies.

The audience whooped when asked what they thought of ‘Honestly’, “Feedback is important” Lalah emphasised “please let me know what you think and share with your friends if you like it”.

I can only describe Honestly as feeling like a futuristic ride through today’s world being guided by angel. Everything about the emotion picture was on point, Lalah’s vocals sounded sultry, all notes were hit on point and the crowd lapped up during the 17 minute film the lego scene where a lego Trump tried to eat the main character like a giant pac man baddie.

The magical night did not end leaving the audience in heaven with an Anita Baker mix and Luther Vandross classic ‘Forever, Always, My Love’ thrown among ‘Love’s Holiday’ and ‘I’m Coming Back’. The crowd were left in ecstacy as the opening night of Innervisions Festival came to a close and cried for more from the humble and talented Miss Hathaway, proving how easy it is to see how she is regarded as a national treasure in the States.

Innervisions Festival runs at various venues through London upto July 14th and has arranged epic performances by Jimmy Cliff, George Clinton, Alfa Mist and Mavis Staples as well as many more.

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