Mahalia @ Rescue Rooms

On the 8th of October, Mahalia performed at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham for the 5th out of 8 shows in her 2018 Autumn Tour, and I still can’t stop listening to every song of her set on repeat. She started writing music when she was 11, and has always been brilliant at expressing herself. Mahalia’s lyrics make her music fluent, melodic and ageless, relevant at whichever part of your day, or life, you listen to it. She has worked with Ed Sheeran and Rudimental amongst others, and, whatever she does, her own tone always confidently radiates through. She has recently released her new EP ‘Seasons’ and, judging by this gig, you could tell that her fans loved it just as much as her past music.

Jvck James supported Mahalia, and his music is a blend of classical soul and R&B with a modern energising tone. Accompanied by an extremely talented guitarist and no one else, the two of them captured the attention of the audience, engaging them more than I’ve seen a support act do in a long time. In particular, I have been replaying his song ‘Extroverted Lovers’, which is so multifaceted that every time I listen to it I feel like I hear a different layer. Nonetheless, all elements are united by, and do not distract from, his utterly smooth voice.

Waiting for Mahalia created a keen atmosphere; every time someone came on to the stage to move an instrument or test a speaker, the audience cheered them on. The lighting accentuated every song it was changed for; a dreamy oozy green for ‘No Pressure’, a dusky nostalgic gold for ‘Surprise Me’, a burning red for ‘Sober’-  each colour reflected how, just as different colours mean a different emotion to each person, each song from Mahalia can be both clear and complex; she calmly expresses complicated feelings. If I cannot articulate an emotion, Mahalia has. When she performed “Back Up Plan” alone without accompaniment, the lighting was an organic white, and the message was transparent; when she performs she is completely herself, devoid of stereotypical music industry nonsense, and that is always enough.

The energy of the crowd was intensely warm, and at some points even she could not stop smiling as the crowd sang her songs to her. As well as individually, everyone experienced her vibe together as a group, and I was surrounded by so many people getting emotional that I had the most hugs at a gig that I have ever had before.

The end of the set came too soon. Other music started to play over the speakers as the audience started to file out, and we tried to maintain our buzz by bopping along, but it didn’t really feel the same. Then, Mahalia suddenly appeared on stage. She danced along like she was at the club with us, reuniting everyone and reminding us all of the empowering message she spreads throughout, and beyond, her set. Mahalia is so honest and personal, in and out of performance, and I left feeling like I had just met up with one of my best mates.

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