Sampha @ 02 Institute, 26th March, 2017

Sampha @ 02 Institute, 26th March, 2017Sampha @ 02 Institute, 26th March, 2017Sampha @ 02 Institute, 26th March, 2017Sampha @ 02 Institute, 26th March, 2017Sampha @ 02 Institute, 26th March, 2017

Sampha Sisay is a very successful singer and producer, and yet many people outside of the internal music industry have not heard of him. That is about to change. With his debut solo album, Process, he is playing live dates, and tonight was his first ever performance in Birmingham.

The venue is near to capacity by the time he takes to the stage, opening with ‘Plastic 100 ºC’, and it’s immediate the scale of the sheer talent of this young man, a vocal range which at times defies belief. Of course he’s also an accomplished keyboard player or pianist if you prefer, and has previously had the likes of Drake, Kanye West and Alicia Keys queuing up for his service. ‘Too Much’ is greeted like a familiar friend and it really is breathtaking, and it’s also a time when largely the audience remain quiet, yes sadly, those wonderful folks who like to talk all throughout gigs were here again, including the young lady next to me, her loose lips aided no doubt by three pints of cider she’s downed in the past ninety minutes.

‘Timmy’s Prayer’ sees a more up-tempo pace, with a wonderful groove underpinning this wonderful song about love and contrition. It is brilliant.

For ‘Blood on me’ the stage is swathed in blood-red lighting, which spreads out to light up the wonderful décor of this building during its finale. Apart from thanking us for coming, and to tell us it’s his first visit, there’s little between song chat, and there doesn’t need to be. Tonight is about the music, and watching this man pour his soul out, and this was particularly evident during the set closer ‘(No one knows me) Like the Piano’, on his own, you could’ve heard a pin drop. “no one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home, you assure me I have something, some people call it soul”. It’s even more poignant as today is Mother’s Day, and the song is a tribute to his later Mother, who lost her battle against Cancer in later 2016. It’s some feat that he manages to perform the song. There are quite a few of us wet –eyed at the end.


The encore sees the four musicians perform a percussion intro into ‘Without’ which at times is almost tribal. It is a fitting tribute that hardly any-one has left the show early.


‘Process’ has taken a while to be released, but this is because of the demand for his skills by those aforementioned artists, and then the recent bereavement had an obvious impact.

Tonight’s show was special and I’d suggest this incredible talent will not be playing this small venue again, as the cavernous arena’s beckon. Certainly one to watch ‘Process’ is out now and Sampha continues on his tour around the UK.  Catch this rising star while you can.


Plastic 100ºC
Timmy’s Prayer
Reverse Faults
Too Much
Take Me Inside
Incomplete Kisses
Kora Sings
Blood on Me
(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano


Reviewer: Glenn Raybone

Photographer: Adriana Vasile

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