Jordan Rakei at Ronnie Scott’s

Last week I attended Jordan Rakei’s show at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and it was absolutely amazing. Let me lay out the scene for you; its an intimate show for the crowd and we are in close proximity of the stage, which is set with a string quartet, a pianist and vocal accompaniment and lastly Jordan Rakei comes out. He readies himself, straightening the mic and comes in on it as easy as a Sunday morning. He holds his guitar delicately, sporting a wavy shirt which in styling looks like he is paying homage to his father, a Pacific Islander hailing from the Cook Islands.

Daniela Monteiro

 

Jordan Rakei’s backing vocals are flawless, produced by two soul sisters. The song is ‘Eye To Eye’, a firm fan favourite with the audience. This record is off his third LP Wallflower (2017), an effortless showcase of Rakei’s skill and versatility in amalgamating electronic r&b, soul and jazz into a seamless soundtrack for his captivating self-examination. As Jordan sings, the crowd stare at him in awe, while he and his two back up singers harmonise like three birds in the sky. The vocal range he shows on this is astonishing, going from high to low notes with a mercurial ease.

Next comes ‘May’, and he rides the alluring violin strings like a spring breeze. Watching the performance you can feel his pain as he croons about love and loss, singing about a relationship that did not work out. From there he floats over to the keyboard and as he sits down he radiates a controlling stage presence.  Backed by jazzy piano keys, the pianist goes in for a solo that sends chills down my spine. The audience gaze in amazement- open-mouthed- as Jordan on the keyboard and Sam on the piano go back and forth like two brothers in arm. Sam then goes into another solo, tip tapping on the keys with a whimsical wonder, laying a streamline foundation for Jordan and his back up singers to blend melodies with an epic fluidity.

Daniela Monteiro

He then goes into ‘Goodbyes’, which is one of my favourite cuts from Wallflower, flexing his vocal guns, lamenting over unnecessary goodbyes that we never want to utter. “‘Goodbyes’ is about totally investing your love and energy into someone in the early stages of a relationship, but those feelings might not be reciprocated”. This heartbreaking track leads him to the breakdown, where the piano, bass and him on the keyboard come together in a musical marriage of sounds that are so vivid you can almost see them.

The atmosphere in the room is now almost tangible, with the romantic red-lights dotted around the club giving Rakei’s passionate vocal effort a dulcet glow. Sweet sounding and honey-glazed, he smoothly transitions into the album’s title single ‘Wallflower’; this one builds up slowly with only him and his guitar strumming at first, but then he brings in the rest of the band crashing in a crescendo of jazzy and emotion laden strings. The strings in his band deserve special mention, as they add palpable sadness to him singing about not loving himself. We then have a short break, which is needed after the roller-coaster of emotions we have endured during the show.

Daniela Monteiro

When Rakei comes back out, he jumps on the grand piano showing his versatility, as he layers the warm keys with a truly exhilarating and soulful voice. He comes left-field with a cover of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’, adding a more solemn feeling to it and as he sings you can feel his pain through his eyes that are the window to his soul.

He and his band are now in full flight, with him digging in the archives and pulling out ‘Add The Bassline’ from his breakout EP ,Groove Curse (2014), an EP he used as a painting to blend together his various sounds; fusing soul, jazz and hip hop. This project was the breaking point for him and at this point he felt that he needed to expand his horizons further than Brisbane, Australia, deciding to move to London to develop more as an artist in 2014. Out of this period came ‘Add The Bassline’, a funky neo soul vibe that sounds like something Erykah Badu could have blessed, but he anoints it with effortless vocals backed by a groovy bass line.

Jordan Rakei now slows things down, nodding his head to the piano keys like a crazy scientist working on and creating a piece of art and the crowd react accordingly with loud claps and shouts of genius, as Jordan closes the show. Jordan Rakei firmly made his mark with this breathtaking performance and I can confidently say that the 25 year old multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer is going to be big. But don’t just take my word for it. Go to his next London show and see for yourself.

Written by /
Published /
April 27
Category /
Event Review