The former billiard table factory on Holloway Road provides the perfect setting for tonight’s Cinzano x Sofar Sounds. Sofar reimagines the live music experience through curated, secret performances.
Rainy weather and general chaos on London’s underground system is still not enough to prevent the exuberant music event from going ahead.
This is a friendly and informal setting. Lit by fairy lights, the refurbished space is almost fully covered by blue and red pillows casually distributed across the floor space within close proximity of the stage area.
The vibe is warm, welcoming and cosy, and there is anticipation. Groups of friends and couples all chat quietly among themselves as they wait for things to kick off. The Cinzano bar is located at the entrance, busy mixing three varieties of delicious cocktails quickly and efficiently. Across the room, bread, olives and cheese are served.
Iyamah is the first act to perform. “We all met through Sofar Sounds”, explains Sophie Bond as she introduces her fellow band members. Brighton’s fast-rising soul singer has enjoyed a hectic year playing live shows and summer festivals. Tonight she delivers a dynamic performance, and the raw and “rootsy soul” is instinctive and expressive, and the crowd immediately warms to her songs. Her voice is bright and crisp, and the sounds created by her band are trippy and jazzy. Key moments include tracks such as ‘Seasons’, ‘Flowers’ and ‘Cryptic Love’.
The idea of splitting her time between France and the US does not appear to have represented much of an issue for Million Miles. Drawing on a rich palette of American singers widely representing the traditions of jazz and soul, the gifted singer-songwriter whose actual name is Sophie Baudry has put much work into maintaining an ever-growing international fanbase.
As Baudry leads the way with some acoustic jazz numbers, it becomes obvious that her intimate, refined material is a result of hard work, imagination and an aptitude for songwriting. She is on fine form this evening, her delivery smooth, measured and well-composed. It is a set that allows space for thought, introspection and plenty of immersion. The tones created by her double bass player add authenticity. The low-key, minimalist elements in her music make some of the darker themes more prominent and dramatic. The catchy, bitter-sweet track ‘Ice Cream & Cigarettes’ tackles a bad breakup, the song ‘Honey’ has a more feel-good vibe while ‘Old News’ is about what happens when “people stop calling you”.
Last but not least, other atmospherics and sonic landscapes are created by Kudu Blue, the third band who are due to perform this evening. Also hailing from Brighton, the band’s apparent foothold in the 1990s creates a different dynamic entirely. While Iyamah and Million Miles very much come from the perspectives of jazz, soul and rock, the central components in Kudo Blue’s material are electronic and dance. They may seem to rely heavily on keyboards, but their songs are complex. With plenty of pace and variety, songs such as ‘Healthy’ and ‘Premonitions’ represent some of the set highlights.
A successfully curated night all-around, the partnership of Cinzano and Sofar Sounds seems strong and natural. It will be interesting to see how far this relationship can go in the future. The benefits for the brands and concert-goers alike seem boundless.
Follow Cinzano on Instagram now for more highlights.
Words: Susan Hansen
Photography: Amalia Navarro
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