Michael Kiwanuka at the Bluebird, 8/7/12

Categories: Concert Reviews

Tom Murphy
Michael Kiwanuka last night at the Bluebird Theater.


Judging by the instrument setup on stage, you could have guessed what sort of music Kiwanuka would be playing: congas prominently pushed to the front of the stage, a classic sparkle drum kit reminiscent of something Ringo might play, an organ and handful of acoustic and electric guitars with stained wood-grain finish. Santana could have waltzed out of a time machine and begun playing at any minute.

Tom Murphy
The setup last night at the Bluebird Theater.

Michael Kiwanuka and five other musicians crowded the instrument-packed stage, however, and without any introduction launched into their set. Already-familiar chords of his newish single, "I'll Get Along", filled the room, hushing a crowd made up largely of couples -- so many folks on dates to see Kiwanuka, which makes sense: His folk-pop music seems geared toward them, and they ate it up.

Kiwanuka, dressed smartly in a denim shirt and confidently wielding a Telecaster, tore through a lesser-known number, "You'll Give Everything but Love," one of the few songs from last night not on his debut album. He occasionally looked up from his guitar, appearing genuinely surprised. If there was an ounce of pretension in Kiwanuka or his band, it was not apparent. Few musicians seem as excited to see their fans as Kiwanuka was to see his last night at the Bluebird.

Tom Murphy
Michael Kiwanuka last night at the Bluebird Theater.

The rest of the set mostly included songs from Home Again: "Tell Me a Tale," "Always Waiting," and the best tune on the album, "I'm Getting Ready." Most were augmented slightly, stretched into jams that featured no virtuoso musicianship, but instead just six guys digging their own chord progressions. There were occasional jazz touches, indicative of Kiwanuka's formal training at the University of Westminster. Bill Frisell's influence was in there, too.

Location Info


Bluebird Theater

3317 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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