British singer/songwriter Sampha first graced the ears of many by featuring on Drake’s song “Too Much”. He’s been stirring the pot in the UK for some time now, but the U.S. is just starting to taste what’s been cooking. Sampha’s specialty is incredibly soulful and original R&B. There’s a good reason so many artists have reached out to Sampha to add that touch of innate sensitivity and melodic mastery to their own work.
In light of his new album release, Sampha touched down at the Metro in Chicago yesterday for a performance that he’s probably still buzzing over. He should be. The Metro was the ideal space for such a concert, as Sampha’s setlist was inherently intimate. There was moody purple, blue and pink lighting which lent a great deal to the atmosphere as well. On stage he seems right where he belongs, and rarely does an artist look more comfortable when about to perform.
There’s so much to be said about Sampha’s ability to perform his songs in a live environment. They’re all so beautifully simplistic. Sampha was accompanied by a drummer and a sound guy, but he could no doubt put on a powerful show with just him and a keyboard. The simplicity does a number on the crowd – in a good way. It’s impossible to not digest and appreciate each song when they’re being conveyed so purely to you. The intimacy and relatively small size of The Metro definitely compliments this.
After his opening songs, he began to tickle the ivory to the tune of “Too Much”, at which point the audience cheered in approval. His work on the keyboard for this, and all of his songs, is vibrant, mellow, and flawlessly executed. One of his closer songs, “(No one Knows Me) Like the Piano” struck a chord with the crowd in a very real way. It’s really very impressive the way his songs stylistically meld together sequentially with one another. There are no gimmicks happening, it’s just raw, organic talent.
If the phrase “I appreciate a solid live performance” applies to you then you need to put a Sampha show on your calendar/list. The man left a deep mark on myself and undoubtedly numerous others in the crowd. It’s tough to go wrong when an artist has such a natural gift, and Sampha is a perfect example of this. Stay tuned to his Soundcloud below.
Check his new album Process review here.