Event Review: Soweto Kinch @ Boondocks (London, 7th June 2017)

A voice with a conscience, songs with a message. Soweto Kinch is part of a new breed of young musicians rising in the current socio-political climate. A saxophonist and spoken-word artist who not only has beauty to share, but adds depth in his observations and their connection to the world around us.

The night was hosted by Word on the Street, a group who fuse hip-hop, spoken word and performance art. Starting with an hour of open-mic, most of the audience were there to participate, providing a loyal and engaged following.

Soweto easily moved between the different mediums throughout his six-song set. Starting his laptop to the sound of drum loops and quivering organ samples, he played impressively nimble melodies. With so little on stage, he was able to craft a slightly aggressive yet hopeful number.

He introduced the next track as a love song with a difference. Usually performed with music, he delivered it acapella with impassioned intensity as he bared his soul. Starting lightly the song turned dark as sweat dripped down his face. He emotionally divulged the breakdown of a relationship chanting “love is torture but just remember, I did it all for you”. With the spotlight on the lyrics, Soweto showed he is a master of wordplay and banter.

He later engaged the audience with an interactive song as the crowd shouted on prompt “what’s it all for”. He looped audio footage of fear-inducing news commentary of terrorism alerts as he rapped about the governmental lack of concern for the poor and shared his disengagement with our democratic system.

On the day before a general election, this was an event with politics at the forefront of everyone’s minds. A mixture of anger and uprising mingled together to provide relief, community and a common direction amongst the group.

Soweto manages to engage with only a laptop, his voice and his saxophone but would take this one step further if backed by a live band. If the set had been any longer this arrangement would have become repetitive.

This is an artist for those who enjoy hip-hop and like to indulge in lyrical substance. Soweto adds drama and narrative to his compositions and is charged with frustration. Undoubtedly multi-talented, this is a man skilled at compelling an audience to join him on his spirited missions.