Following a fantastic year that has seen the Notting Hill alternative R&B singer-songwriter feature on huge tracks with both Wretch 32 and Show N Prove, it was time for Shakka to step into the limelight and make a name for himself.
With the intimate setting of the sold-out Barfly in Camden eagerly awaiting his arrival, Shakka (with two K’s, as he regularly pointed out during the evening) entered the stage wearing a powder blue blazer, white tee and Native American headdress, which briefly ensured that the stage looked like that of a late 90’s Jamiroquai show, and opened with crowd favourite ‘Spin’ taken from his latest EP ‘Tribe’. The bond between crowd and artist was evident as soon as Shakka began to sing as the crowd became his backing vocalists, without request, singing every word back to him and even ad-libing some vocal skits.
During the course of the evening, the crowd were treat to several exclusive performances of new tracks, the first of which -‘You Know It’ – was an energetic carnival anthem-in-waiting and featured a chorus so quick to learn it had the entire room joining in instantly! Not wanting to alienate newer fans who may be unfamiliar with his earlier work, Shakka went on to perform the chart friendly Wretch 32 single ‘Blackout’, on which he featured in 2013. To the crowds visible and audible amazement (my ears are still ringing from the screaming), the immensely talented East London wordsmith himself, Wretch 32 appeared from a side door and grabbed a microphone to contribute to a scintillating duet that drew an untold amount of smartphones and electronic tablets from the bags and pockets of the audience, all trying to capture and savour the moment in HD.
A further new track, ‘Heart Don’t Lie’ briefly allowed the crowd to catch their breath before being whisked up into a frenzy again for another chart smash as Shakka performed ‘If Only’, on which he had collaborated with producer Show N Prove. With a live band on stage made up of a guitarist, bassist and drummer, Shakka took the opportunity to mix it up and experimented with the instrumentation of the track, resulting in several musical breakdowns which allowed the band to showcase their talents.
Shakka can be found on YouTube and Soundcloud performing what he has aptly named “Shakkapella’s” whereby he covers two tracks and mixes them together using only vocal sounds. Instead of beatboxing on this occasion, however, and making full use of his live band, he covered artists including Azealia Banks, Gotye and Usher with the highlight being an outstanding and vocally on-point mix of Chris Malinchak’s ‘So Good to Me’ and Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ that had the hairs on the back of your neck standing up as Shakka passionately recited the lyrics note for note.
After thanking everyone for attending through the ongoing drama of the London Tube strike (including his family who were down at the front to witness his first solo show of 2014) Shakka performed an atmospheric, acoustic version of recent single ‘Just Want to See You’ which was preluded by a tale of how he wrote the song whilst waiting for Rita Ora at a recording session, before she stood him up. Not wanting to end on such a disappointing tale, there was still time to fit in a soca-infused cover of Coldplay’s ‘God Put a Smile On My Face’ before ending with his triumphant 2012 debut single ‘Sooner or Later’, which ensured the lively crowd were dancing up until the last second.
With the natural ease and openness that this very likeable guy performs and the stunning quality and precision of his emotive and soulful vocals in every range, Shakka is definitely one to watch for the summer of 2014 and beyond. This may well be one of the last times that he performs at such an intimate venue so if another opportunity for tickets arises, do not hesitate, purchase straight away as artists with the talents of Shakka don’t come around too often!