Kali Uchis made her first UK appearance since the release of her latest record ‘Isolation’ back in April at London’s Lovebox Festival. It was certainly a sight to behold as her sultry and fiery performance raised temperatures on an already scorching summer day.
Confidently striding onto the stage in a blue nightie it was clear Uchis was trying to keep her cool in the uncharacteristically tropical Gunnersbury Park heat. The first half of the 10 song set focused on tracks from her debut EP ‘Pora Vida’, a surprising choice but it perfectly showcased why we fell in love with the songstress in the first place with her mix of Latin and R&B styled music. ‘Rush’ was a breathtaking introduction to the next forty minutes as Uchis shook and twisted her body, exotically dancing her way across the stage with the audience looking on in awe, screaming along. ‘Nuestro Planeta’ was an early highlight and a great example of her multilingual abilities and eloquently displayed her Colombian roots.
Despite a bright start, it wasn’t until the halfway point did the performance hit another gear and truly turn from a good set to a fantastic one, starting with Isolation highlight ‘Just A Stranger’. Uchis also gave us the full experience as collaborator Steve Lacy joined her on stage, singing that iconic chorus line of “She wants my hundred dollar bills, she don’t want love, she want’s my hundreds.” I’ve been struggling to get the undeniably catchy chorus out of my head for months and now the pair has guaranteed the stellar R&B single will be stuck in there for weeks on end once more, no doubt helped by how persistent Lacy was to make sure we were wall shouting it back to them at the top of our lungs, not like the crowd needed much encouragement though.
There should be no doubt ‘Isolation’ is one of the best records released this year, a fact further cemented by a joyous rendition of standout track ‘Dead To Me’, Uchis rarely missed a note during the set but her sultry and high vocals really excelled during the number. The reason for ear-shattering screams during ‘Tyrant’ became immediately apparent when the Brits Critics Choice winner Jorja Smith came into full view, joining Uchis on stage for a rare live collaboration. The result, a smouldering duet from two of the best voices in the genre, it really highlighted the strength of females in modern R&B at the moment, it was also one of the only proper ‘festival moments’ Lovebox produced for the entire weekend.
The performance was capped off by the funkalicious ‘After The Storm’, a lounge styled number which allowed Uchis to croon like a 60’s star to the jazz-infused rhythms. When It came to the finale it was back to the beginning, the crowd joining her for an emphatic ‘Ridin Round’. Despite a few wardrobe malfunctions (due to a breaking heel and a nightie that never seemed to stay in place) Kali rose above the distractions to perform a memorable and defining festival appearance. Next time she returns to the U.K I wouldn’t be surprised to see her rising considerably up the lineups. It was already clear she had a fantastic album to perform, now though, she's proven she has the stage presence to match it.
3. Nuestro planeta
5. Know What I Want
6. Just a Stranger
7. Dead to Me (with Steve Lacy)
8. Tyrant (with Jorja Smith)
9. After the Storm
10. Ridin’ Round