Review: Mahalia @ The Lemon Grove

Mahalia makes some serious noise with her new music

The alternative R&B soul singer and songwriter Mahalia charmed her audience last Wednesday at the Lemon Grove. She proudly shared that it was the first show of her world tour and also the debut of her new EP ‘Seasons’, released just over a week before.

Mahalia, born and raised in Leicestershire, has been writing songs and playing the guitar since before her teens. Recognised as promising talent, she was signed at the age of thirteen by the major record label Atlantic Records and released her first collection, Head Space EP, in 2012. She did not rush putting any music out though and let herself discover her own sound whilst she finished school. After re-surfacing in 2015 on Rudimental’s single ‘We the Generation’, a steady trickle of her music has been released, with her first album Diary of Me, as well as popular singles such as ‘I wish I missed my Ex’ and ‘Sober’.

A quick performance from her supporting act, Jvck James, was readily received by the crowd. Another British talent, likened to Frank Ocean and Khalid, Jvck James warmed up the crowd nicely with his blend of R&B soul. Whilst not many people in the crowd seemed to know his music well, everyone was drawn to the stage and listened intently. His passion and talent alongside his easy-going, cheeky character made his music extremely enjoyable and by the end he had everyone swaying along to it.

After a short intermission, Mahalia hit the stage and started with a crowd favourite ‘No Pressure’. She immediately created a relaxed atmosphere with the slow, methodical song, whilst exposing her bold and fierce character through the cynical lyrics that criticise the expectations and intensity of the music industry. The crowd were already captivated and knew that the rest of the show was set to be a good one.

Next up, she played the first track from her new EP Seasons, ‘One Night Only’ featuring Kojey Radical. Mahalia’s enjoyment in creating the new material and pleasure in finally getting to showcase it was obvious as a new energy came alive within her. It follows her personal journey through the natural ups and downs of any relationship from the first night through to its demise. She was beautifully honest and friendly with the crowd admitting ‘Honeymoon’ was written about nobody in particular, she just ‘loves love’. She shared that her favourite song from the EP is ‘Good Reason’, although she initially hated it. Mahalia was taken aback when the crowd knew all the lyrics, almost word for word, despite its release just over a week before the concert.

A magical moment in the concert was the performance of Mahalia’s most well-known single ‘Sober’. Before the band started playing, the audience already caught on to what was coming next and sang the whole length of the song to her. She casually soaked it up and danced along in her laid-back, blue ripped jeans and plaid shirt. Her effortless confidence did not stop there. A few bars into singing ‘That’s OK’, she just paused and asked her guitarist to start again an octave lower. Mahalia didn’t let the small mishap phase her at all and it definitely gained the respect of the audience, as they appreciated the authenticity of her performance and her desire for quality. Earlier on she showed her ease and playful side with ‘Hold On’. She got her groove on with the guitarist and drummer, telling the crowd to dance along with her.

Mahalia ended on a high with the lively and uplifting ‘I wish I missed my Ex’. The crowd absolutely loved the memorable and vibrant finish. The time had flown by far too quickly, so all were sad to see her leave the stage, but everyone was giddy from the feel-good gig.

It is difficult to accept that she is just twenty yet has such a natural confidence and stage presence. Her arresting voice and musical talent made it easy to fall even more in love with her. She is a must-see and definitely one to watch in the near future as she writes and releases more music. And if you get the chance to see her live, your answer without a doubt should be… yes!

-Natasha Webb


Photo Credits: Renegade Music

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