A Jazz Re:freshed virgin and with a Deviation hangover, last Thursday I took one bus and two tubes West to see N’dambi on the strength of one very beautiful song: Call Me. That’s a lot of strength considering I don’t normally stray from the route of the 149, especially on a school night. Well worth it is a huge understatement because if my only intention had been to hear that song and see the best collection of natural hairstyles since an Asher Roth protest march, I would have been satisfied. In my humble opinion, West really do it best when it comes to the style wars, I didn’t even bat a sleepy eyelid when my foot was repeatedly stamped on by the crowd, I was too busy looking at their shoes.
As for N’dambi, she strutted on stage at 10pm with as much attitude and more Afro than Erykah Badu, an artist she has not only sung backing vocals for, but also co-written with. They share contagious performance energy, jaw dropping style and serious vocal talent, but there is really no need for comparisons. In her own right, N’dambi is headliner calibre with her own unique presence, which transformed the atmosphere in minutes. Just before she came on, almost every over tired and underpaid body in there (including me) was complaining that there was nowhere to sit, just after, I was dancing on the only available armchair, trying to soul clap without spilling Guinness all over myself and failing fantastically.
One great thing about going to a gig in complete ignorance of the artist is that you can’t really be disappointed. If you had no expectations, but it beats them all anyway and has you waxing lyrical all the way home (two tubes and one bus worth) it’s like all your Christmases and Kwanzaas have come at once. Or birthdays in the case of Jazz Re:freshed, it was their 6th and like a Nigerian dad I was a little late (6 years to be precise) but I made it in the end.