Grantham born and bred, Ady Suleiman, returned to Nottingham this November with a stellar setlist from his first two EPS, This is My EP and What’s The Score. It’s his first headline tour but, nationwide, the 23 year old singer has already been gathering a strong following and rapidly selling out venues, including our very own The Bodega.
Stepping onto it’s tiny stage – already filled out by a total of six other band members – our leading man strode out before the crowd to the slick sound of NxWorries’ ‘Suede’. A somewhat complimentary soundtrack to his undone dungarees and cheekily tipped velvet flat cap. The mismatched room of vintage shirts, plastic cupped beers, and couples old and young, all responded in turn with a chorus of whistles and seemingly familiar waves; it was clear that Suleiman was back on home ground.
After warming up with the laidback rhythm of ‘Why You Running Away’, Suleiman and his band kicked into a spiced up rendition of his latest release, ‘What’s The Score’. Typically this track treats us to an appearance from featuring talent Joey Bada$$, but live, these now empty bars were redecorated with a soulful selection of freestyled verse. Although the art of casual onstage chitchat may not come to so naturally to Suleiman, it was evident through this spontaneous reworking that the vibe of his own sound clearly does; he made it look so easy, so effortless.
“It was clear that Suleiman was back on home ground”
The half-Tanzanian, half-English singer’s reluctance to converse didn’t appear to bother the crowd too much as they continued to sing, dance, and – predominantly – bounce along appreciatively with the rest of his forty-five minute set. Suleiman hopscotched smoothly between his two records and a handful of earlier singles; only really pausing to apologise for the darker themes of ‘Drink Too Much’: “I’ve had enough / The pressure of this life’s a bore / I’m trying to escape the norm / Two fingers up and fuck you all”.
It would be difficult to pinpoint a single song as the highlight of Suleiman’s Sunday evening performance. ‘So Lost’, the leading track from his first EP, This Is My EP, undoubtedly commanded the room with its trumpet embellished beats and a pulsing rhythm that just begged to be chanted along with. The following excerpt from the same EP, ‘Need Somebody to Love’ too sparking an unfaltering energy and enthusiasm in the crowd through a fresh jazzy rendition of the song.
“The singer’s reluctance to converse didn’t appear to bother the crowd too much as they continued to sing”
But perhaps it was the bold inquisitive nature of ‘State of Mind’ that won it; with Suleiman’s forthright lyrics questioning the bodies of power in our society: “Now it’s like, political leaders / Try to spoon feed us / But I’m not a baby / The rattle, look I’m giving up, eating up / Why do they fight through the media? / Because it’s fucked!” At this point, even the most unlikely of spectators was seen almost rapping along with the stage.
Ady Suleiman’s entire performance was just very consistent, very cool, and very much leaving us wanting more – we drifted out of The Bodgea that evening with soul in our ears and smiles on our faces.
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.