Josh Kumra, Alexander Wolfe & Kimberly Anne - Black's, Soho
TMF spent a lot of time wandering the drizzly streets of Soho looking for the elusive and aptly named Black’s Private Members Club, a delightfully Dickensian hub and home of the monthly Society of the Golden Slippers. Essentially a mysterious acoustic night dedicated to showcasing upcoming talent in a setting which has the atmosphere of your front room, we’re finally pointed in the right direction, and many staircases later arrive in the quaint - and frankly tiny - upper salon.
A world away from the chaos of Soho outside, it’s pretty cosy in here. Crammed to the rafters thanks to the night’s reputation of sourcing those acts you wished you’d heard of first, it’s a tad sweaty. Thank goodness that despite the air of exclusivity around the event, the audience seems friendly and thankfully recently showered. Somehow TMF manages to blag a sofa, even though it means a trip to the bar is strictly off limit to deter any potential chair thieves. Making a glass of wine last through three sets? Um, okay…
Opening proceedings is Kimberly Anne, whose rather loud shirt contrasts against the subtle candlelight of the room - something she is acutely aware of to the amusement of the audience. Opening track ‘Kind Regards’ quickly detracts attentions from said shirt and showcases her unique vocal ability against an upbeat acoustic melody. She’s responsible for the first shiver-inducing moment of the night during ‘La La’, orchestrating an audience singalong. They harmonise the title on a loop before gradually fading out to a whisper at the end of the track, which is concrete proof of her ability to build a rapport with a crowd. Closing on a medley centred around T2’s garage hit ‘Heartbroken’, Kimberly Anne leaves the stage having made a lot of new friends tonight.
Towering above everybody in the room, Alexander Wolfe takes to the stage accompanied by his Wolfettes, mumbling an apology about suffering from man-flu, so we take it easy on him. No need, ‘Skeletons’ is hauntingly beautiful, leaving the select audience spellbound into silence. His vocal soars above his accompanying string section with an almost lullaby quality to his sound. Picking up the pace with ‘Song for the Dead’, one spectator comments on the fact that his most raucous song is about the deceased. Regardless, it’s a jaunty acoustic-led four minutes which has the whole room bobbing along in time. Lyrically, Wolfe is morbidly downbeat, but with a bittersweet edge; his incredibly clever narratives compliment the intricate layers of his songs to make an aurally intense amalgamation.
Headlining tonight is Josh Kumra, the singer-songwriter responsible for Wretch 32’s ‘Let Go’ which reached UK Number 1 earlier this year - although his hip hop influence is lost in an acoustic setting. Kumra lets his voice take centre stage, his husky tones swirling around the audience with minimal effort. His modesty on stage makes him easily likeable and minimal eye contact affords him an air of mystery. He’s here tonight celebrating the release of single ‘Helicopters and Planes’, meanwhile attempting to enrol a friend to assume rapping duties in the place of absent Roc Nation recruit K Koke. Thankfully the offer is declined and the stripped back feel gives the song a much more endearing feel than the original. Kumra’s raspy vocals prove more than up to the job of seducing the crowd and he finishes as subtly as he began, leaving the impressionable crowd to mingle and bask in the warm glow delivered by the Society of the Golden Slippers.