DADDY, XamVolo, Lydiah, Ahmed Khwaja: 81 Renshaw, Liverpool

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XamVolo

On a night when some of Liverpool’s finest emerging artists hosted a charity gig in aid of Mind, Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett was on hand to witness the talent.

In the UK alone 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. Of these, it’s estimated only 25% will receive treatment for their illness. These are facts issued by the leading mental health charity, and tonight’s donation recipients Mind

Mental health issues, and mental illness, is one of the greatest medical health problems we are faced with in society. Thankfully, of late, awareness and support for this illness has increasingly grown, and this is largely down to the magnificent work charities like Mind.

Tonight, we are snuggly packed into a sold out 81 Renshaw Street where we are hosted by local singer-songwriter, and winner of last year’s Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge Lydiah. All money raised from tonight’s event being bestowed to the very worthy cause.

Out of the four emerging talents performing, we are greeted firstly on the stage by singer-songwriter Ahmed Khwaja, with only his acoustic guitar in hand Khwaja delivers an inspiring set. Gorgeous vocals fill the room with original tracks such as Road of the Broken, and the bluesy country Sons and Daughters impressing all in attendance, adding an almightily passionate and powerful version of Ray LaMontagne’s Jolene.

Kwhaja interacts well with the crowd throughout his set, including a deeply honest and emotional reflection of his own mental health struggles, incited from childhood racism experiences, to which he admittedly still bears scars. His song Phoenix being one of the shining lights to come from these times, written in the darkest times of his battles, it’s a deeply impassioned, articulate track with majestic vocals.

Next up is tonight’s host Lydiah, there’s a pin-drop silence that’s overthrows the room for her set. A stunning vocalist, her voice is mature beyond years, similarities are clear to Northern Irish singer-songwriter SOAK for the slower tracks, whereas comparisons to Florence Welch would not be an exaggeration when she opens up her vocal prowess and note range.

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Playing a few covers tonight, although her gift is certainly evident, and brought to the fore when delivering her own material. Building up a Backbone, Quit While You’re Head, and Black Dog are all enchanting tracks, clearly an extremely talented voice and musician. 

XamVolo is then onto the stage for his stripped back acoustic set, it’s been a remarkable year for the Neo-Soul singer from London, now residing in Liverpool. His blend of jazz grooved soul has seen him receive critical acclaim, with national press singing praises. From being championed by the likes of Huw Stephens, Annie Mac, & Gilles Peterson, and recent touring with Paloma Faith, as well as filling festival stage audiences, it is a joy to see him perform here to the handful of awed onlookers.

XamVolo’s set is delicately refined, powerful, dramatic, it’s really, really good. Only an acoustic guitarist to back him up, his voice is an immensely influential instrument in its own right.

Tracks include Lose Love and Adored from this year’s EP; A Damn Fine Spectacle. Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy goes down a treat, as well as Old Soul, and Down.

Rounding off tonight’s performances are DADDY, the nine-piece funk jazz collective all dressed in matching retro 80’s tracksuits, with full brass section in tow, including; two saxophones, bass sax, trumpet, and trombone. DADDY are pummelling your ears form the onset, a little raw in a few sections, although making no apology, they’re fantastically loud, it’ll be fascinating to see them grow as a band. 

Highlights of DADDY’s set included Lightshow, a more soulful track with a grounding base blues backdrop, and final track Daddy’s Groove, an all out swing assault on anyone who was not on their feet at this stage of the night. 

Images by Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett 

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  1. I was very impressed by the talent of all the artists and the hard work and dedication by Lydia in organising the event, not to mention her brilliant performance.

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