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Live Review: Jacob Banks – 11th December 2017 – KOKO, London, UK

3 min read
Photo: Grace Rivera / Edge Publicity

It’s not the first time for Jacob Banks to be performing at KOKO, but instead of being the support act, this time he was the main star. The kind of star whose three UK shows are all sold out, the kind of star for which you would find a long queue outside the venue way before the opening doors time, although it is deadly freezing. Jacob Banks is also the kind of star that would completely blow your mind with his voice: it’s warm, penetrating, powerful and even more emotional than it is on record. Although his voice is not something that you would necessarily expect from a 26 year old guy, it is the perfect match to his soul, R&B and sometimes even retro style of music.

The band started to play the intro, while the stage went dark and Jacob made his entrance cheered and acclaimed by his fans. Starting from the first notes of Worthy, Jacob showed all his vocal talent, which excited the crowd even more. The same kind of atmosphere continued during Monster. As soon as it started, the entire audience joined Jacob singing the catchy and simple chorus. It was a wonderful perfromance, where the hip-hop vibes and the deep vocals perfectly mixed together. 

A solemn piano intro set the scene for Mercy. A gentle start, followed by a slow crescendo, exploded during the chorus: a moving execution for such brilliant lyrics. Just after this emotional rollercoaster, the audience was teleported in the past thanks to Part Time Love: its retro vibes are even more marked when performed live.

For the next song the atmosphere completely changed. The lights focused on Jacob, the band was in the shadow with their dark outline popping out from the light blue screen behind them. Jacob, after borrowing the guitar from his band member, started to play Pilot, a new song. For around three minutes, Jacob’s voice filled the entire stage and venue, delivering one of the most touching and sentimental performances of the night.

Another emotional moment was during Unknown, Jacob’s latest single. Unknown is delicate, warm and powerful at the same time. In a recent interview, Jacob declared that when performing this song he thinks about the relationship with his father: well, you can totally feel all his emotions.   

After Unholy War, Jacob joked about the meaning of an encore and avoided to do one, decision that was positively accepted by the crowd. Chainsmoking served as the best closure for such a triumphant night. Once again Jacob’s vocals were brilliant, but what made the levels of adrenaline and excitement peaking was when the rest of the band took over and unleashed all the energy during a short instrumental segment. Although it was a quite different arrangement form the recored version of the song, it helped to deliver a more strong and electrifying performance.

Well, if you haven’t got it by now, Jacob Banks’ concert at KOKO was incredible, the audience admired and enjoyed every single song. For sure the focus of the night was Jacob’s voice. A voice that gives you goosebumps while painting different shades and emotions, as if the crowd was a blank canvas brought up to life by Jacob’s magical vocals (yes, I do believe his voice is truly magical).