Soweto stuck in the Basement?

Soweto Kinch
Town Hall, Birmingham

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The ticket offer was that anyone under 21 and living in certain inner city postcodes could get free entry – an acknowledgement of Town Hall’s community function and Soweto Kinch’s dedication to the people he writes about and has been working with.
Of course, the audience an artist wants is not always the one he gets, and I would guess most of the modest number who attended were older, wealthier, more educated and, to use old-fashioned terminology, more middle class than those offered free entry.
The first half consisted of a second performance of the Hockley Flyover Show: the performers were talented and, although some of the sketches went on too long, this again was very much the Town Hall as community venue.
Basement Fables, the second part of Kinch’s A Life In The Day of B19 project has had the words “long-awaited” so inextricably linked to it, it is perhaps no surprise expectation might overwhelm actuality.
Old Skoolish, Finish Line, Awkward Moments had strong tunes and were filled out with extended soloing both from Kinch and guitarist Femi Temowo, but, after having heard this material three times now, it occurs to me that it doesn’t add a great deal in terms of developing the stories and characters we have become familiar with from the first part, Tales From The Tower Block.
There was a new song called Roots which had a new vocalist and a pretty tricky vocal line, and Soweto chose to play Adrian’s Ballad on tenor, which was a blessed relief after one too many frenetic alto solos.
Kinch is a supremely talented musician and cultural activist, but it feels like he has hit a creative plateau. Could this be the real downside to his label problems and the ensuing delay in releasing the recording of Basement Fables: the man just hasn’t been able to move on?



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