Ady Suleiman, Oslo, review: ‘a voice as sweet as spiced rum’

Ady Suleiman

Ady Suleiman - Credit: Archant

Having supported the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Lianne La Havas and Laura Mvula, the 24-year-old brings understated charisma to a sold out venue.

Considering the sheer graft a young artist has to put in these days, perhaps the hardest task is keeping your cool.

Take Ady Suleiman, whose colourful smudges of reggae, pop and soul have made him a blogosphere darling – so in demand from press and punters alike that he was even made to live stream the rehearsal to his sold-out show in Hackney on Tuesday.

It’s the sort of publicity blitz that could frazzle the most seasoned crooner, yet Suleiman still maintains a curious slacker charm.

Having supported the vaunted likes of Michael Kiwanuka, Lianne La Havas and Laura Mvula, the 24-year-old clearly knows his destination, even if he approaches it with the nonchalance of a Sunday stroll around Sherwood Forest.

Cloaked in an oversized Oxford shirt, the singer took to the stage through a haze of light jazz from his impeccably drilled band.

With the briefest of hellos, he launched into the sizzling ska hit Running Away, bouncing to the groove of Shaggy-esque melodies and brass overtures that characterises his latest, eponymous EP.

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Across the set, a thread of unrest lurked beneath his laissez faire pleasantries with the audience.

On Drink Too Much, Suleiman laid bare the stunted etiquette of his digitised generation (“Conversation? Sorry I don’t, I’m afraid you’re out of luck”), so it was with some irony that a mellower acoustic moment was later drowned out by the murmurings of restless Hoxtonites at the bar.

A stripped down but playful cover of Protoje’s Who Knows soon regained the crowd’s attention; Suleiman ramping up the bashfulness by revealing that “when I played this on Radio 1 recently, I s*** my pants”.

By the time he returned for an encore of the lamenting soul ballad Not Giving Up, his voice – as sweet and peppered as spiced rum – was the only one to be heard.

Alongside a fine ear for a hook, this will surely be the sharpest weapon in his upcoming debut album.

Suleiman’s pick ‘n’ mix of genres is nothing new in itself, ploughing back through a lineage of everyone from Sly Stone to Jamiroquai.

But if his understated charisma warmed the room, it was the power of his soaring vocals that melted away the night.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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