It seems about 1 in every 3 or 4 posts on facebook or twitter is some ‘amazing’ track that’s going to change your life and you’ve ‘absolutely got to listen to’. And I do try, I really do. Sometimes I do feel I could do with something life changing, but ultimately it comes down to the luck of the draw, when I have a spare 2 or 3 minutes spare, or simply fate’s intervention. About 6 months ago, someone posted House by Kindness, I clicked on it and was hooked.
Kindness, the alias of Adam Bainbridge is unmistakable as he steps out of the dark and onto the stage at Heaven. Statuesque in posture, he’s silhouetted against blue lazers and hazy smoke. With a squint and some imagination it could’ve been Michael Jackson himself, with long hair falling straight past his shoulders, loose silk shirt, white socks and black shoes. His movements are also reminiscent of the late king of pop as he marches, hot-steps and strides like a gazelle across the stage. He seemed to be constantly on the cusp of moon-walking. Later he actually does.
The 2 backing singers steal the first notes as they open with The Pointer Sisters Automatic, and could’ve easily held the show on their own as their voices filled the tightly packed room. Bombastic was Kindness’s opening track, which didn’t quite pack the punch the title suggests, and it was the cover of The Replacements’ ‘Swingin’ Party’ that fully charged the room with arms in the air, sing-along lyrics and feel good melody – even the most subdued heads – not mentioning any names cohort – managed a nod to the infecting beat.
Gee Up is another obvious firm favourite with the crowd, and they all get rewarded as it becomes a medley, intertwined with Womack & Womack’s Teardrops, Anita Baker’s Sweet Love and The Luniz I Got 5 On it. – Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but it did work and made something amazing out of a track that’s less than 2 minutes on the album. Erol Alkan has also got to work on this, to create his own little gem, whilst retaining its original purity.
When the first chords if It’s Alright strike, there’s a sense that this is was what everyone had been waiting for. The last track to be released from Kindness’s 'World, You Need A Change of Mind', That's Alright is built almost entirely around samples from 'Still Smokin' by Trouble Funk – seminal go-go band from Washington DC, who’ve existed in one form or another since ‘78 for those of you at the back. It’s easily the strongest track and tonight in Heaven, Bainbridge invites all the funk sounds of the 70’s into the room with him. Taking a back seat himself, he takes care of percussion and lets the backing singers take centre stage, resulting in a high-energy and sublime rendition.
Personal favourite House up next, and seems it wasn’t just me. Bainbridge introduced the track, saying he’d been contacted by Ewan Pearson who had wanted to mix a special version of the track to present to his wife on their wedding day, which happened to be the same day. Such a stunning track, the performance was beautiful and saw Bainbrige go down into the crowd, much to the bemusement of a slightly anxious looking security guard, to sing surrounded by those who’d fought to the front.
Having busted out all the big hitters, I’d wondered what was going to close the show – and I’d would never have guessed Roy Davis Jnr’s Gabrielle would be it.
Through the performance Bainbridge joked how his album was only 41 minutes long, so a show longer than that was always going to be difficult to accomplish. I’m a fan of covers, ones that are done well anyway and this felt like a natural fit, with smiley face balloons descending from the ceiling covering the crowd, resulting in a serenade of popping, like fireworks exploding overhead.
A Kindness show is more a mixtape of songs that he obviously loves and has worked on to make his own. I think it works. Whilst there are some standout tracks on the album, there are also those which are a bit more unusual and more awkward on the ear. Bainbridge belongs on the stage. He made comments about being out of shape, but you don’t believe that for a minute. He is visibly an individual that’s driven, not by his success as such, but by the fact he has so many people turning up to enjoy it all with him. Constantly interacting with the crowd throughout, paying tribute to the newly re-elected Obama and orchestrating a birthday sing-along for his drummer.