For the second night running, I head up to the Finsbury pub by Manor House station. There’s much to love about this space; always a friendly vibe and music that entices.
Tonight though all of the stops are pulled out. Kadija Kamara has been running her monthly nights for three years now. Lady showcases female acts who are creating a buzz around town giving them a platform on which to perform. Everyone who takes to the stage is grateful to be playing; the night bleeds with warmth and generosity.
Buyinza, the nights opening act is a revelation. Fizzing with energy and a smiley, sunny presence that could melt the iciest of receptions, she romps through a sex-fuelled set of her own songs. “I write mostly about boys, my legion of lovers”, she tells us. She’s originally from Uganda, a fact celebrated in her opening tune; urban African beats with a backing tape. She captivates with her thrusting moves as she turns on an R’n’B tap letting us know that she wants to ‘get high in a different dimension’. Buyinza jumps into the crowd to dance before charming all with a tale of being stuck in Uxbridge tonight with no chance of making the gig. ‘Don’t give up’, she sings as the Metropolitan line comes back into action and saves the day. I’m glad it did. Buyinza is an imminent star. The fact that she stays until the end of the night, cheering, whooping and dancing wildly in support of the other acts on stage is a measure of this lady. Wonderful.
Once each act finishes their set, they are briefly interviewed by Kadija. It’s a top touch amplifying the supportive family feel that this night aspires towards.
Chess Galea is up next. She’s accompanied by Dean on guitar. Chess acknowledges early on that she won’t be dancing quite like Buyinza did but we all probably need a bit of a breather in truth. A diehard romantic, Chess fantasises about being in love and nothing going wrong. She has songs about wrapping yourself in cellophane though I’m sure this is more metaphorical than literal. One would hope so anyway. At times, Chess’s vocal goes a tad too Mariah Carey for my liking; the over-elaborateness masking something that might sound better simple. All told though, there’s quite a pop-soul talent on display here.
KYRA is third up, the headliner before Kadija plays a set. KYRA has Chris on keys and does a gentle yet elaborate jazz pop thing. Her vocal has a fine tone and you can see why record executives are buzzing around. Cause and cure, a recently released single sounds great though things really get going during Bandages, a track that KYRA wrote for a dying brother. She covers The Fugees before calling Buyinza back onto stage. It transpires that Buyinza, in rushing to the venue had nothing to wear and so creatively cut a jumper in half backstage and wore it as top and skirt.
Kadija is a great curator of talent yet it turns out she’s no musical slouch either. Fresh from a summer season at a few festivals, she’s not with a full band tonight but with a pretty talented guitarist. Together, they make a Motown soul sound frothing with a rockier Living Colour feel- the vocal is stylish and joyful. Kadija sings ‘where did we go wrong?’ – and you want to tell her ‘nowhere tonight for you are the glue that has made all of this possible.’ A funked-up version of All Along The Watchtower sounds great.
There is still time to dance the night away with Lady’s resident DJ, Handson Family. I stomp some steps amidst happy smiles. I learn of a Lady festival one-dayer that Kadja is putting on at Pop Brixton on October 27th and make a mental note to go along.
Reluctantly I leave the Finsbury. There is work tomorrow after all. Looking back over the makeshift dancefloor, take a guess who’s still throwing down some moves looking like the night is still young?