2017 saw some of the best Soul music talent begin to get the recognition they deserve, with more and more opportunities to rock the stage at some of the biggest festivals and headlining gigs at statement venues. 2017’s festival season and live music circuit gave us some incredible musical moments. Reminisce with clips of the greatest moments below.
Solange stunning at Lovebox
HAD to start with Solange’s Lovebox set. Throughout the year, Solange took her now seminal exposition on modern black womanhood, A Seat At The Table, on the road with a show that gives the album the live experience it deserves. From the staging, the powerful visuals, through to the use of movement and dance, it was a truly amazing moment.
Frank Ocean’s festival run
Since he re-emerged from some sort of self-imposed exile with his double album release in 2016, Frank Ocean’s stuck around. He was billed to perform and headline at a few festivals in summer ’17. That, however, turned a bit rocky when he cancelled appearances at Primavera, FYF, Hangout and Sasquatch!
When he did make appearances, (at ParkLife and Lovebox) in the UK, he received a mixed reaction from crowds and critics alike with his performance being described as ‘introverted’ and ‘enigmatic’. Frank performed with screens either side of the main stage with visuals of him shot from a GoPro. He mainly performed from an island stage connected to the main stage by a walkway.
Our take: there was some very impressive, nuanced elements to Frank’s set. The staging, the visuals and the introverted feel to his performance which all seemed designed to pull the audience into his world. Truth is a lot of that nuance is lost on a crowd of tens of thousands. His set would’ve probably have played a lot better to a smaller crowd that can fully be immersed in the show he set out. But given that Frank has made it clear he just wants to get on stage and he him – not have to play to the whims of the crowd, he probably just isn’t suited to large festival crowds. We did enjoy getting to experience Blonde live and watch Frank do what he does best – be unapologetically him.
Nao with the shape-throwing sets
Our obsession with singer, Nao is unashamed and well documented. One of the UK’s most innovative R&B acts, Nao absolutely did not disappoint at AFROPUNK 2017. She performed several body shakers off her shimmering debut album, For All We Know, and had the crowd moving like no other. Relive some of the moments below and check out our coverage of her headline London gig here.
Badu in London
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Baduizm, one of the queens of Neo-Soul, Erykah Badu delivered a stellar show at the Eventim Apollo, London. Over two nights, she stunned crowds with a show that was powerfully enigmatic, fun and sensual without being raunchy in a way that only Badu knows.
A Tribe Called Quest for the last time EVER
Legendary Hip Hop group, A Tribe Called Quest headlined the Saturday line-up of Bestival 2017, taking the stage for a 90 minute set. Following the death of Phife Dawg in March 2016, the group have repeatedly said they would call it quits once touring and promotion for their 2016 album, We Got It From Here, is done.
Backed by rapper, Consequence, the group gave a stellar finale performance with Q-Tip announcing, “This is gonna be our last show as A Tribe Called Quest, ever”. Watch footage from the historic performance below.
We’ve had a chance to see a couple of the Re-imagine shows, “a London based events series that brings to life music’s defining moments and iconic recordings”. We were lucky enough to catch the rendition of modern music classic, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and it just had to make this list. This That Thing (Doo Wop) rendition is enough explanation.
#TBT: Basking in the glory of one of modern #music’s most shaping albums @ms_laurynhill‘s ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’. This @reimagine_london show is one absolutely not to be missed . . . #reimagine #laurynhill #rnb #hiphop #throwback #throwbackthursday #musicislife #soul #soulmusic #neosoul #rap #fugees #cover #miseducation #miseducationoflaurynhill
Ray BLK absolutely did her
We caught the trailblazing BBC Sound of 2017 winner, Ray BLK several times on her festival run and 2 of her own headline gigs. Performing hits off her mini-album, Durt, her catchy summer single, Doing Me, dope covers and even a few new tunes from her upcoming album. Complete with sultry dance moves and fantastic energy, Ray’s set was always an absolute hit.
And the crowd went absolutely WILD. @rayblk x @stormzyofficial giving the people more than they could handle . . . . . #rnbjunkie #rnblive #rnbsinger #rnbsingers #soulmusiclives #alternativernb #newmusic2017 #newmusicdaily #newmusicfridays #newmusicmondays #randbmusic #neosoul #underrated #musicilove #musicindie #musicisme #livemusiclondon #liveshow #liveperformance #musicblog #musicbloggers #upcomingartist #undergroundartist #playlists #newartist #livegig #playlistlive #upandcoming #soulmusic #myhood
That new @rayblk sounding tew goodt! Waiting on the new album to drop like 😍😍 . . . . . #musiccurator #musicpr #newsinger #urbanmusic #rnbmusic #rnbmusiclovers #ukmusic #ukmusicscene #indiemusician #livemusicrocks #fortheloveofmusic #rnb #randb #altrnb #nextup #newmusic #newmusicalert #underrated #goodmusiconly #livemusiclondon #livegig #musicblog #musicblogger #newartist #indiemusic #supportgoodmusic #nowlisteningto #nowlistening #rayblk
Kelela took us apart
Kelela brought her debut album Take Me Apart to London for 3 nights, reminding us that she’s one of the greatest electro-Soul singers out. Check the clips below.
@kelelam might be the greatest ever to do the electronica and R&B fusion . . . . . #musiccurator #musicpr #newsinger #urbanmusic #rnbmusic #rnbmusiclovers #indiemusician #futuresoul #fortheloveofmusic #rnb #altrnb #nextup #newmusic #newmusicalert #underrated #goodmusiconly #livemusic #gig #musicblog #musicblogger #newartist #indiemusic #supportgoodmusic #nowlisteningto #nowlistening #electronica #kelela #electronicrnb #Bluelight
The several times Little Simz stunned with music from ‘Stillness in Wonderland’
We’ve raved about Simbi Ajikawo, better known as the rapper Little Simz, for a bit now since the release of her stellar sophomore album, Stillness in Wonderland. At both her AFROPUNK and own headline gig, she was backed by a full live band, performing several of her biggest cuts from the album and absolutely got the crowd going. Peep her unmatched delivery and stage presence below. Highlights include bringing out Ghetts and Syd at AFROPUNK.
2 words. The Internet.
Yes. They came, they saw, they conquered. R&B / Soul cult favourites, The Internet, headlined the AFROPUNK 2017 Saturday line-up. And they certainly didn’t fail to deliver on the faves from Ego Death, their practically-immortalised third studio album.
Members of the group also performed cuts from their solo projects, including Syd’s Fin & Steve Lacy’s Dark Red. Watch the best moments from AFROPUNK’s perhaps most highly anticipated performance below.