Live Report: Sampha – Electric Brixton, London

A subtle but empowering show from a rich, diverse talent...

The queue alone is breathtaking.

Person after person, fan after fan, huddled in a thin, stretching line that unfurls along the length of Electric Brixton and out into the cold, wet night.

Sampha’s music seems to inspire such dedication, his soft, supple take on future soul cutting right to the heart of the matter, in a manner other artists can imitate but never equal.

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The start time is delayed to allow fans time to get into the venue, the murmur of expectation rippling to become something rather more substantial, rather more impatient.

Then, without fanfare, he’s here. Much like his music Sampha is a subtle but overpowering presence, his shy, bashful onstage manner matched to a clinical sense of delivery and that voice – oh that voice – veering up into the heavens.

The show clearly means a lot to Sampha, who was brought up a mere bus ride away in Morden. There’s a sincerity to the performance that can’t be faked, from his wry smile to the way those notes bubble across the heads of the crowd.

Debut album ‘Process’ arrives next year, and key tracks from his slim but nigh-on perfect catalogue stick out: ‘Timmy’s Prayer’ is divine, while a meditative ‘Blood On Me’ seems to point towards a real spiritual depth.

It’s a simple performance, but a hugely effective one. Joined by a full band at times, but at others playing solo, Sampha manages to fuel stripped down arrangements with waves of hopeless suggestion.

Returning for an encore, that wry smile remains in place. With debut album ‘Process’ set to drop next year, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it.

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Photography: Vicky Grout

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