Tuesday 27 February 2018

LIVE: Sivu at King's Place (15/2/18)

This write-up has been a little while coming, but I just had to talk about the stunning Sivu gig I went to a couple of weeks ago at King's Place. I did a little calendar digging before the show and worked out that I hadn't been to a gig in nearly two months, the longest gap between shows since before I started university in 2014. I was particularly excited because of this, and there was probably more than a little extra pressure for it to be a special night, and he delivered in bucket loads.

Sivu has released some of my favourite music of the last few years between his recent record Sweet Sweet Silent and 2014 debut Something On High, which very quickly became an album of the year for me at the time, and it's always a joy to catch him playing live. He's just been on a tour supporting John Smith around the UK, and took time in between shows to play this one-off headline show in London (with a string quartet, no less!) Not only was he performing with an all-female quartet, but both support acts were female. It feels almost ridiculous that this is something that strikes me as unusual or worthy of praise, but with the intensity of male-dominated line-ups both at gigs and festivals, this was incredibly refreshing.

Gender aside, the whole line-up was magical. First up was Malena Zavala, armed with an electric guitar and delivering some really dreamy, soothing tunes - her single Could You Stay is below, taken from upcoming debut album Aliso. Next, before Sivu took to the stage, Imogen. Barely able to mask her excitement at playing the venue's Steinway piano, she had another reason to be pretty excited - this was her first live show since having surgery last year. If there were any nerves it certainly didn't show, her vocals were incredibly powerful and her songs moving - there's an EP coming out soon, so look out for that!

Once it was time for Sivu to take the stage I felt as if I'd already got my money's worth for the show - always an impressive and gratifying thought. It turns out it could only continue to get better, as he delivered a set with The Mangan Quartet (led by Kirsty Mangan, who composed all the string parts for both of his records) beautifully recreating tracks from both records. Particular highlights for me were the non-album track Cold Hands and Sleep from the first record - both are big favourites of mine, but there really weren't any weak links in the set, every track had clearly been so carefully rehearsed, and the strings worked so perfectly. Throughout the set, it was clear that Sivu was humbly overwhelmed by both the turnout and the incredibly positive response to each song, writing on Twitter the morning after that it was "my favourite show ever" - a fairly positive review, I reckon! It truly was something special.

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