EVENT REVIEW: K’Naan @ Cargo 26/05/09

knaan11A determined audience can either make or destroy almost any artist at a live performance. But despite how essential this principle seems there are some musicians who either forget or just experience megalomaniac delusions of grandeur in which they laboriously pace up and down a stage, mumble inaudible nonsense into an old microphone, while the audience wails, claps and sings along to the surfeit of derange ramblings that they themselves can’t even understand.

Thankfully this is nothing close to what occurred at rapper K’Naan’s seminal show on Tuesday at London’s Cargo. If ever there was a presentation guide on how to make an audience fall in love with you for about an hour and a half, this was pretty much it. In fact, hypothetically at least, K’Naan’s ‘how to guide’ can be summed up as follows:

Step 1: Stand for something BIG. In this case it was Somalia. A tune on the place of his birth and the often misguided media perception of it went down a treat.

Step 2: Hop from genre to genre. What began as a bout of Hip hop beats quite quickly mutated into Ethiopian style Jazz from the 60’s and eventually the electro synths and rhythm guitars seeped in to generate a Pop Punk sound, which not only surprised but emasculated the audience with its efficiency.

knaan2Step 3: Go acapella. By the last third of his performance the crowd were so stunned into submission by K’Naan’s artsy swagger that they remained totally silent for at least seven minutes while he delivered a spoken word rendition of “In the Beginning”, which left the audience enthralled and totally besotted.

And finally just to check the success of his 3 step endeavour K’Naan finished off the show by sticking his arm into a pool of screaming girls at the front of the stage and almost had it ripped off. If this doesn’t suggest serious infatuation I don’t know what does. I doubt these three steps will work for any artist but they certainly worked on me. I’m playing K’Naan’s new album Troubadour as I write this. In fact I can’t stop playing it.


Reviewed by David M*
Photography by Tamar Nussbacher