On Thursday 31st August at 7pm, I found myself at Camden Jazz Café to see Alfa Mist, Children of Zeus, and Allysha Joy.
It’s rare that the line-up for one night can induce a level of excitement akin to what you’d find at a music festival. However, Rhythm Section, continuing their residency at one of the premier music venues in London, found a way to make our eyes light up and ears perk up. For here we had three highly anticipated upcoming artists, each with their own unique vibe, inspiration and energy, but the one thing they had in common was our held interest.
The night kicked off with a solo set from Allysha Joy. The comparisons with Nai Palm, of the wonderful, acclaimed Hiatus Kaiyote, were very apt; Allysha also hails from Melbourne, Australia, her voice had a similar graceful power that Nai Palm is so known for, not to mention her influences in the beauty of nature itself and her previous collaborations with Simon Mavin, the keyboardist for Hiatus Kaiyote. Allysha, with earrings like chimes, held the audience in a collective breath. She utilised her lush Fender Rhodes keyboard, her awesome yet intimate vocal quality, and even added some birdsong ringing in the backgrounds of her pieces. We can only imagine what wonder she’d create with her band, 30/70, if they were to come over from Melbourne. They’ve just released a single entitled “Misrepresented”, a really jazzy, groovy track, with a record “Elevate” still to come.
Children of Zeus, a duo from Manchester consisting of Konny Kon and Tyler Daley, were the next on the billing. They brought energy to a crowd still reeling from the beauty of the first act. Their sound was something straight out of the 90’s; a blend of old school hip hop and RnB that created a fantastic nostalgia alongside the natural urge to dance. What was immediately clear was their lyrical talent, with some stunning lines weaved into their songs, one song describing money as a “piece of paper” among other things. Tyler was a stunning vocalist too. He absolutely floored the crowd with his mesmeric, soulful tenor. One of the highlights of the set, “Still Standing”, managed to get the whole crowd singing along to Tyler’s chorus.
Finally, the man we had all been waiting for; Alfa Mist, along with his band, descended onto the stage. His stage presence, like his music, is highly understated. Perhaps it seems uncomplicated on the surface but looking deeper, his complex rhythms, harmonies and layers all combine to create a sound that is heavy, mysterious and beautiful. He performed a number of songs from his latest project “Antiphon”. The music centres around conversations he has shared with brothers around the topic of mental health which highlights the poignant depth of Alfa's creative process. The rhythmic core of the band, with Alfa Mist on keys, Kaya Thomas-Dyke on bass and Gasper Sena on drums, were dynamic and fluid.
Often the scene of each song would be set, only to be cut through by the virtuosic playing of Mansur Brown on Guitar, his majestic, Coltrane-like escapades lasting for minutes on end, taking the audience someplace new each time. His performances were so intense that one of the strings on his guitar broke halfway through the set. We were also treated to Alfa’s rapping skills for his song “7th October”, showing that even as a man of few words, he still often had very poignant messages to get across. Alfa then brought one of his long-time friends and fellow musicians, Jordan Rakei, on to perform the encore. Jordan sang an acoustic version of “Hopeful” on Alfa’s previous EP, “Nocturne”; a fitting conclusion for a wonderful night.