Review by Chadwick Jackson with Photography by Wayne Fox

It was a bitterly cold winter’s night in Coventry, for the presentation of two of the brightest and authentic emerging acts in UK music. Jorja Smith being supported by Mahalia at the Coventry Central Library, a very intimate yet beguiling venue, at some points throughout the night you were certain people wanted to let loose but then quickly realised they were in a library.

Jorja Smith

The night started off with Mahalia whose abundance of charm and ability to work the crowd was simply effortless, joined on stage by her guitarist Charlie, Mahalia’s audience interactions make you feel as thought you are on a patio, attic or veranda chilling with a close friend reminiscing about life. Her very culturally relevant and coming of ages songs about teenage angst, coming of age in the music industry and finding her voice as a woman really hit home to the socially aware crowd of young people dealing with heartbreaks, and growing up in this hyper pressurised image conscious era.

Mahalia

Mahalia

Mahalia is a very intricate storyteller always painting vivid stories of what can one only describe as Millennial blues and hashtag heartbreak storyteller, Mahalia openly wears her heart on her sleeve and has a chip on shoulder, and rightly so, as a young woman finding her way and voice in a industry that at the best of times can be very unforgiving, she is forging a way for herself with very honest, raw open lyrics about pain, resilience and a dogged determination to be successful whilst perfecting her craft and living her dreams. Mahalia’s pitch and tone swallows the room and hyponistise you to thinking you were somewhere else, her internet sensation Sober which captivated the internet via her iconic rendition for ‘COLORS‘ that has garnered over 6 million + views on YouTube, it was at this point I told myself that I really wanted a drink but then I realised I was in a public library, but what we could not find in alcohol was more than made up for in storytelling by the opening act leading to the headliner Jorja Smith.

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith graced the stage for a second half of beautiful music, the best thing about watching the former and latter in their elements, is that they were being honest, vulnerable and self aware. Jorja Smith has been trail blazing since her appearance on the music scene, whether it is her heart felt lyrics, wondering stage presence and precise timing and camaraderie with her bandmates, Jorja’s affable personality makes her very easy to warm to as an audience member. She turns any form of nerves into charisma and invites you into her world and perspective through her voice, one of the highest compliment that can be paid to contemporary musicians, Jorja sounds better live than her recordings, the fullness of her voice to take over a space as atmospherically and acoustically awkward as the library was testament to her talents, the engineer’s support and the musicians that are part of her ensemble. It was a set that was mixed with new material from her upcoming album in June and her industrious output of well received tracks and shrewd collaborations.

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith

At busy set list of 17 songs was performed wetting our appetite for what is sure to be a highest anticipated albums of the summer 2018. Tracks such as Teenage Fantasy, Blue Lights, and Let Me Down with a Jorja remix of Stormzy’s verse was warmly received on a very cold night, signing off her very entertaining set with On My Mind a track that is one of her most recognisable dance hits to date. The Coventry Library is a very unorthodox venue but was value for money for the storytelling and great writers of songs that was on display tonight.

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith

See the full stunning photoset from tonight’s gig here.

Jorja Smith

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