Dave Okumu brings his spiritual soul to the Roundhouse, playing tracks from the self-analysing debut album I Came From Love.
Words Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)
Until now, Dave Okumu’s revolution has been a quiet one. The man behind some of the UK’s best contemporary music, his work with Amy Winehouse, Adele, Jessie Ware and many others has contributed to the country’s dynamic cultural landscape, but it's taken him over two decades to step into the spotlight alone. Known for his funk-laced guitar work in three-piece band The Invinsible, who made the Mercury Prize shortlist in 2009, the producer-songwriter has an unrivaled ability to span genre and musical community. Nevertheless, his debut record I Came From Love released just last week on Transgressive Records. Featuring everyone from his childhood hero Grace Jones, to revered UK wordsmith Wesley Joseph, the project turns his story into an open conversation, and at the Roundhouse last Thursday, he was keen to pictorialise it through the power of live music.
But not before Yazmin Lacey took to the stage for a stripped-back performance of cuts from Voice Notes: her Dave Okumu-produced debut album. Created in his Greenwich studio space, the record addresses everything from generational changes to unrequited love over a hotbed of warped genres. Her infallible mix of jazz, soul and reggae shines through: the tender storytelling of ‘Late Night People’ and nostalgia oozing ‘Legacy’ providing highlights.
One of the key takeaways from I Came From Love is Dave Okumu’s commitment to community. Throughout the performance, he welcomes us into his world, seemingly grateful to share his story in a mutually cathartic exchange with the audience. Accompanied by the Roundhouse choir, who add their ferocity to tracks like ‘Blood Ah Go Run’, the 49-year-old rocks out with a nonchalant stage presence, dominating the space with guitar solos and a calm vocal slur.
The choir remains captivating all night, honouring the spirit realm with their black cloaks, vocal howls, and unpredictable choreography routines. But perhaps the most potent moment comes when Dave Okumu welcomes his nephew to the stage for ‘Scenes’, playing bass beneath the spoken-word wizardry of Anthony Joseph. After an hour or so, the politely seated audience derail into a pack of hedonists, reveling in the fellowship of his uncompromising debut album. In the Roundhouse that night, Dave Okumu found a new groove, embracing being a frontman with the laidback etiquette his collaborators love him for.