Welcome To My City @ 10 Feet Tall, Cardiff, 12/05/2017

Welcome To My CityI must confess: tonight's headliner is someone I like on both a musical and personal level, and probably the first friend I ever made on the songwriting scene. We met at a youth music workshop, which also held a competition to work with (now Grammy-winning) Ed Sheeran co-writer Amy Wadge. I'd barely been writing very long but I knew who deserved to win - and did. It is the best, most supportive of friendships, the kind that can have a real funny or serious conversation one moment, and then completely fangirl over your talent the next. Admittedly, this makes me a biased attendee to this gig. But it is also a core point of this Welcome To My City tour, set up by Punch Records - five artists touring each others' five cities.

I soon realise that Nipah, from London, is aptly named. A petite girl, braids worn in a stylish bob and dressed all in black, she's accompanied by a guitarist playing jazzy, R&B chord progressions under her sweet but soulful voice. Having originally arrived in a bad mood, I was now really chilled out. Birmingham's Gambimi continued this chilled out vibe, singing two songs to backing tracks with an incredible voice. It was obvious the crowd wanted more, but the brevity was effective. A personal favourite is "Waters", which further research reveals has a very steamy video with a model I recognise from Instagram. I'm glad I didn't see it beforehand - a fainting reviewer probably isn't acceptable.

Next up is Tobi Sunmola's powerful lyrics, paired with a husky, soulful voice that reminds me of reggae singers. He doesn't hold back using it, offering a mixture of frank spoken word and rap between the melodic hooks. It was truly hypnotic; I'll certainly recommend him to anyone wild about Kendrick Lamar. Liverpool artist Sub Blue arrives with blonde in his coils and a baby blue Supreme hoodie. As the theme of the night goes, he's the kind of artist that could easily be on tour with Drake or The Weeknd. Deceiving at first, appearing to just be one guy and a guitarist, Sub Blue turns out to be much more. Fascinatingly, he live-tunes his charmingly lisped vocals with different voicings, meaning later I have to tweet him my vocal pedal curiosity.

As the final act on the Welcome To My City bill arrives, a tipsy audience member with a thick French accent proclaims to his friends: "She looks good, I reckon she will be good, don't you think? I think so..." I note this quote straight away, slightly chuckling to myself, because I know it's a correct assumption.

I've seen this artist do so many things over the years that I'm never quite sure of what's coming next. I know the set will probably feature the foundation of a bilingual girl with an acoustic guitar, but what I like about Kizzy Crawford is that she's always evolving. There is a lot going on, with keys, loop pedals and even a double bass player  involved. I think about how she's already captivating without all the dressings, and wonder if it's an overload - but the crowd is in obvious disagreement. Her set creates such a lively energy, you'd think the audience had grown three time the size of that basement.

"Golden Brown" is the highlight of her set. This is already a favourite tune, it's a song about being proud of who you are and standing up to adversity. I'm used to often being the only other person of colour in the room with her, and this time I'm not. The other Welcome To My City artists (now in the audience) on tour are black too, and it's a shared understanding of how skin-deep this song is. They transform Kizzy's scene from the laid back enjoyment I'm used to seeing, to a hyperactive, reactive, and excitable crowd to be in. They chant for an encore - likely filled with post-show, end-of-tour adrenaline. It's fantastic to see the support they're giving each other, and I have to commend Punch Records in their choice of young debut artists. Genuinely, one of the best showcase style gigs I've seen.

Check out the rest of the Welcome To My City tour at Punch Records' website


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