Fog began to rise over the stage as the machines were inspected, causing the whole crowd to erupt in a pandemonium of screams as we believed that the man we were waiting for – Grammy Award winning US artist Miguel – was about to run on stage and kick off the night of partying at the O2 Academy in Brixton. Standing afore the stage was three members of the audience, discussing their favourite music; I was more interested in partaking in their conversation than the one I was having with my own friends. One girl explained that classical music was the single genre that really caused an emotional impact – “lyrics aren’t necessary alongside the sound, which is pretty spellbinding” she told me, “I just have to close my eyes and imagine a story, or just walk down the street watching everyone pass by to the music”. As the conversation progressed, music boomed over the sound system causing the crowd to once again shriek in anticipation. This time, a tall blonde female who looked astonishingly like Iggy Azalea strolled onto the stage, leaping up onto a podium behind a laptop and DJ deck. Introducing herself as DJ Alluxe, she began to exhibit her remixes of popular PBR&B (alternative R&B) songs, flaunting her passion by urging the crowd to jump around and sing along. Disturbingly, the majority of the room was filled with people stood completely still, as if her crazed dance moves had no effect at all. Unquestionably, her set was spectacularly disappointing as every single song that was played started off normally, to then be remixed quite badly with the lyrics becoming vacant which effectively caused the crowd to stir with disgruntlement: “If she doesn’t shut the f*** up I’m not staying for Miguel!”. Boos began to circulate round the crowd, as if the crowd were cooperating to mix up a concoction which would throw her off the stage. Along with the music being unsatisfying, Alluxe continuously walked on and off the stage during her set, barely engaging with the crowd other than to discernibly make herself feel appreciated; her main prop was a golden toy gun, which she persisted to hold up to her temple, pretending to shoot herself. This overuse began to grate on not only me, but everyone else surrounding me. As the crowd began to grow increasingly restless, DJ Alluxe played her final song and thanked everyone for listening, quickly disappearing into the side of the stage. Not long after this, she emerged back onto the dark stage to much disappointment from the crowd, yet this time she brought along a couple of men who each picked up instruments and stood stock still, looking out onto the crowd. Suddenly the visuals appeared upon the screen behind and the dismal mood of the crowd transformed into one of elation, as we realised that the man we had been waiting for was about to make up for the dull 40 minutes that had just passed by. His silhouette loomed at the back of the stage, then he stepped forward, his body becoming increasingly more visible causing the hungry crowd to rupture with cheer.
Needless to say, Miguel is a performer. Out of all the gigs I have attended, he is one of the only artists who have interacted with the crowd so copiously, making everyone enjoy themselves ten times more. Diving into the crowd despite a fresh tattoo wound, the singer caused senselessness within the crowd as everyone pushed and shoved in order to touch his skin. One distinctive aspect of his gig was not just the party atmosphere and the unblemished vocals, but a speech from the man himself with intent to inspire the entire room. The singer-songwriter’s third album entitled “Wild Heart” contains many incredible songs, one being “What’s Normal Anyway”. A story is lyrically projected as the 29-year-old gloomily suggests that his uniqueness and individuality prevents him from fitting in: “Too opinionated for the pacifist, too out of touch to be in style; Too broke for the rich kids, I don’t know what normal is”. Preceding the song, Miguel let his audience in to his little world, telling us of his struggles growing up as a mixed-race (African and Mexican) child in a predominantly White area. His speech continued as he urged those around him to embrace their individuality and “free your mind” because ultimately we are all “wild hearts”. The declaration had obviously impacted many within the audience as cheers absorbed the room and “wild heart” was chanted back to the singer as the intro to another song began.
The only criticism of the performance was the fact that the singer’s most popular songs such as psychedelic title track “Do You…” and “Adorn” were timed completely differently to how they’re normally heard; one of his most upbeat songs, “How Many Drinks” became not just acoustic but having a completely slowed tempo to the extent that the audience found it difficult to sing along. I cannot fault Miguel’s vocals, the difference being his recorded voice and his live voice is indistinguishable.
“It was like a dream, it was such a surreal experience that when I left the venue I felt drunk, I couldn’t hear properly after the loud music but I was so happy and wanted to run straight back inside and experience it all over again” – Mabintou Kolley
“I could feel the bass in my stomach, my back was aching, I didn’t know all the words but it felt as though I had a connection with him so all of that didn’t matter – it was the best night in a long time” – Ellie Morgan
© Sophie Barnden, 2016