“You make me feel so good inside, I could of died, instead I cried. One tear for the feeling you’ve given to me.” Lyrics from Ikarus. I heard from Czech friends in Prague, not Kiwi friends, that Ladi6 was coming to London. Its a testament to the following she has built up from heavy touring schedules, a 6 month stint in Berlin and supporting the likes of Mos Def and Mayer Hawthorne. She’s back from Aotearoa for our European summer. Londoners had the chance to see her last night at the Bedroom Bar in Shoreditch.
Ladi6,a regular visitor to my television over the last week via Youtube and Google Chromecast allowed a one sided intimacy with a crafted persona. To see a performer in reality can shatter illusions and build new ones. “Oooh wow, a new haircut” I thought. But is it really? Taking my cues off Youtube, I have no idea.
It was arranged for me to catch her for a quick photo before she got on stage. There’s a special moment prior to performance where bottled energy can be seen bubbling, yet difficult to capture with camera. But she was late and rushed through on to the stage. I had to be content with a stage shot and the tight closeness of the venue delivered.
She launched into Ikarus, a mesmerising first track which quickly calmed an impatient crowd. She looked us in the collective eye, acknowledged us, both our commonality (yes there were lots of Kiwis), and our diversity. Slowly she built the pace, warming the beat, the mood, with that familiar rhythm from home. You know, that drum and bass sound that says “grind me from the ground up”, everyone starts to shift as one and a shared energy starts to flow. A few songs in and that vibe was pulsing through a crowd who were feeling free to express their appreciation with movement.
Ladi6 brings the familar NZ brown soul with her. Laid back, vibey and connected to a history of people where singing was just whanau or aiga being. She does it her own way, with soul, not overwrought, but from a place pinpointed just above her heart. And like much of this sound coming from home, it is expressed as a reality of te ao hurihuri, or the ever turning planet as we say – the present with its multitude of international influences. And so her music has a place in the cafe’s of Berlin, the festivals of Europe and intimate London venues like Bedroom Bar. It does so because its modern and accessible and because it can return you to that faraway place in us all, a place we call home.