LIVE: Sons Of Kemet @ Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Rhythmic musicianship and magnetic mysticism made the jazz quartet's show in Leeds almost trance-inducing.
Posted: 25 February 2022 Words: Wes Foster Photos: Wes Foster

As of yet I’ve not found one bad live band that has two drummers: Sons Of Kemet are yet another absolute testament to that. There is an ebb and flow that comes from the way their rhythm section (made up of Eddie Hick and Tom Skinner) plays that characterises their entire sound, but more so than this, there is a genius in the way they are constructed. 

Despite being only a four-piece, they play with an enormous amount of sound, thanks in part to the construction of the group - Theon Cross’ tuba and Shabaka Hutchings’ saxophone allows for raucously loud moments juxtaposed with the very quietest. This light and dark are perfectly balanced by players with an incredible level of musicianship and feeling put into what they are doing. 

Their set at Leeds' Belgrave Music Hall leaves you wanting to see them time and time again, to see what might change night after night - it’s hard to place where they draw the line between improvised and rehearsed, though there is a flow there which fixates the crowd and responds to them even in a tightly packed shoulder to should room.  

Although previous albums have had slight forays into lyrical additions from guest vocalists their most recent release, Black to the Future (the 2021 album which the current tour supports) leans into this much more heavily, though the live show is a purely instrumental affair. It is an incredible feat that at no point did it feel like vocals were missing. Their music is rich enough without the absolute need for the lyrical - the vocals tend instead to really drive home the narrative already present in the music. 

Sons Of Kemet are a difficult band to describe, as they strike a finely weighted balance between the politicised, the rhythmic and the accomplished. It would be easy to class them as good solely because of how good their musicianship is, though this would describe their music as purely academic when really there is something much more deep-rooted within the flow of what they produce.

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