Having previously dazzled at the Jazz Cafe’s New Years Eve show last year, Yakul, the talented three piece from Brighton returned to the London institution with a few friends to help them take on the daunting repertoire of neo soul legend Musiq Soulchild.
Armed with a saxophonist, a trumpeter, and a trio of backing singers, Yakul immediately put to bed any of our concerns surrounding the mammoth task ahead of them as they opened up with a flawless reinvention of Musiq Soulchild’s household hit ‘Just Friends’.
Other highlights included a stunning performance of ‘sobeautiful’ which showcased the remarkable range of Yakul’s frontman James Berkley who dazzled throughout the evening with his smooth vocal runs and absolute mastery of the keys.
Every member of the band had their chance to shine too, with the batten continuously passed around for guitar, sax, and trumpet solos of the highest calibre as well as the backing singers stepping up to the plate to deliver some remarkable lead vocals.
After a brief interval the guys returned to stage to perform some of their own material with favourites such as their recent release ‘Realigned’ and the groove heavy ‘Bad Karma’ maintaining the neo soul theme of the evening.
Something that struck us about Yakul’s sound is the sheer versatility of it. While they’ll certainly feel at home in intimate venues, the epic crescendos of so many of their tracks make them a perfect fit for the huge crowds that big festival stages and arenas have to offer.
When we write a gig review after we’ve got home from the show at gone midnight it’s a tell tale sign that it was a great evening and we can comfortably place this in our top 5 shows of 2018. It’s been a whirlwind few months for Yakul and we’re certain they’re only at the beginning of their upward trajectory into the limelight.