Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of seeing Zak Abel live. I first heard Zak on a Tom Misch track: Beautiful Escape back in the summer of 2015 and was taken in by his soulful talent. I delved into a few of his tracks as a solo artist and came across Say Sumthin (have a listen to it here) which made me think, okay, I'm going to need to hear this guy live...
Fast-forward to November 2016 and the game changed with the release of Unstable; Zak was making a statement with that song that he was an artist serious about this music game. Shortly after, tickets were announced for 2 nights at Scala (Ed Sheeran performed here very early on in his career) and I quickly secured my entry for a show.
As we entered the venue, I would say the age range wasn't too varied, with young people making up the majority of the crowd. Zak has support from Dan Caplen who stepped in last minute. In terms of the tone of his voice, it is quite similar to Zak's and it does make sense for the support act to be similar in some way to the main act. Dan was able to engage with the crowd while accompanying himself on the piano (keyboard); he had us singing along even though, the majority of people would not have known who he was before that night. A group of guys at the front of the crowd were really showing their support for Dan by acting like his groupies; very entertaining to watch. Dan's set was short but sweet and he definitely gained a few fans that night.
We had a short wait until Zak arrived on stage. His band came on stage one by one and this was when everyone in the crowd began looking frantically from left to right to see where Zak himself would enter from. It was the right side. He came on to roars from the crowd and performed favourites from Running From Myself to Say Sumthin. Zak gave us a little context to a lot of the songs in terms of his state of mind when he was writing them. The energy throughout was palpable; everyone was there to have a good time and enjoy this young man's talent. It was hard to remember that he is still int he infancy of his career from the stage presence and confident demeanour he exuded.
Crowd participation was also encouraged as Zak got us all to join him in doing a cover of Crazy by Gnarles Barkley which he later shared on his Instagram as one of his weekly 30 Second Covers which you can check out here.
Now, Zak had a few surprises up his sleeve for us that night too in the form or Tom Misch AND Kwabs. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. Tom came on stage to support Zak in performing Beautiful Escape. When Tom had his solo on the guitar, the crowd went wild. Everyone loves a bit of Misch.
Next up, Kwabs came on to perform Tom Misch's refix of his song Cheating on Me - naturally, featuring Zak. The three artists performing together was a beautiful sight.
Lastly, Zak did that thing were artists go off stage pretending their set is over, only to reappear a few moments later (why do they all do this when it's no longer unknown that they'll come back on.....?). He did, what is now his defining song: Unstable which pleased us all very much. All in all, an enjoyable night of surprises.
Zak's album: Only When We're Naked is out 21st April. And I am (not-so) patiently waiting for that.