By Kofo Ajala, Opinion Digital Editor
Mahalia showcased her sparkling debut album Love and Compromise to a sold out Bristol O2 Academy.
The set was opened by the talented Hamzaa who would later join our main act on stage. It gave the audience a taster for the RnB sensation that was yet to come. Mahalia ran onto stage to the welcome of a roaring crowd. And those few seconds it was clear that the energy for that night was going to be on a consistent high.
Her dancing on stage surrounded by her supporting band and set covered in flowers, she wanted to let us all know that on that night the stage was hers. Debuting her hits from her latest album Love and Compromise, it was clear that this night was going to be an exercise in self-love and knowing your worth. Be that love for your craft, love for the journey you’re on, or even just loving love, Mahalia consistently served her audience good vibes and mantras for us all to live by. Whether it was dedicating songs to her mother that was literally weeping for joy in the crowd, or proclaiming “either tell me what’s going on here or f*ck off,” everyone left the O2 knowing that there are so many dimensions to love and finding out what love should mean for you.
She started her set off with the opening song to her new album, 'Hide Out'. In between each song we all got to know this talented 21-year-old just a little bit more, adding in funny a one liner like “sometimes I drink water and burp but tell your friends I’m a sexy RnB singer.” No one can deny how positively an audience responds to giving their time to someone they feel like they can truly relate to. I’m sure the 15-year-old fan that she had us all singing happy birthday to towards the end of the show would agree that nothing beats a humble artist who appreciates their fans and loves their craft. Between some songs such as 'Karma' and 'What Am I?' she discusses how love can be messy and sometimes people can do wrong, herself included. Suddenly, these sultry slow jams were so much more than that, they were also evidence of journey to knowing what means to love every facet of yourself unapologetically, warts and all. As she moved her way between slow jams and more up-tempo beats, her versatility as an artist was undeniable.
Her ability to be vulnerable with her audience speaks great volumes to how much work she has put into being where she stood on that day. While introducing her all time hit single 'Sober' she talks about her journey to London at the age of 18 and how on the verge she was of giving up on her dreams. At that point in her life she would have never believed that she would be singing and dancing her heart out to a crowd of 1,600 people. To which she then says “whatever you’re holding on to, hold on a little bit tighter. And whatever you’re waiting for, wait a little bit longer.” She sings 'Sober' firstly to the slower version that everyone and their grandma must have heard by now. Accompanied by the singing of the crowd proving once again that this was the song that put her name on the map. Then, the song plays one more time. This time to a quicker tempo and with adlibs from her drummer and solos from the guitarist.
Finishing off with this all-time hit was the perfect way for her say goodbye. She leaves us with an important message for her peers before she leaves. “There’s no point in screaming f*ck Boris and not voting.” This has been a topic that has been a focus of her social media for a while now. After such a night of vulnerability and words of affirmation, I expected nothing less.
Featured Image: Kofo Ajala/Epigram
Did you manage to catch Mahalia's show in Bristol? Let us know in the comments!