Live gig review from the Old Queen's Head
They say we are not defined by our past. But when we choose to use our past to live our present and fuel our future, that’s when the magic happens. B-ahwe, in its past original form and meaning, meant ‘white’ in Polish. Today, it means a blank slate for an artist that has conquered a beautiful mix of everything that has gone into creating them. Tomorrow, we’re bound to see another journey enrich the meaning of B-ahwe for this artist.
It makes perfect sense - white is the colour often associated with a blank slate. And so B-ahwe is taking something that is white, say, like a ray of light and letting it explode, through the prism that is life, revealing the colours that hide underneath. That’s what B-ahwe’s music can often feel like - an explosion of passion, vibrancy and real history. As she entered the room, her band already setting the scene of mist and fog, her angelic voice floated like rays of sunlight filling up a dark antique room. Her lyrics, particularly through songs like Circles, told a similar story - that there is beauty in the darkness we find ourselves in through life. Her music made us feel like we could be floating high in the clouds while simultaneously living our lives below - almost an ebb and flow between reality and surrealism.
B-ahwe’s first London gig since lockdown and the release of her brand new EP ‘Motions’ boasted this wonderful mix of a mystical familiarity - both for her and the audience.
She delivered her nurtured classics like ‘Sweet’ and ‘Blue Print’ with a stylistic ease that welcomed a collective energy to vibe and sing along, while she encouraged us to skank with her to others. There were songs that debuted live for the first time that tested the waters and emerged certified - stamped, sealed and delivered. The classics and the new were nicely interwoven throughout the set which, as you’d expect, made for a wonderful experience. B-ahwe, with her band, delivered notions of jazz, rap and surprisingly rock too! She really explored her full range (artistically and vocally) and visibly had a really good time on stage. For those uninitiated, B-ahwe is the queen of harmonic melodies that delight, entice and amaze your soul. It’s equivalent to the feeling of being graced by a new, beautiful fragrance that simply demands your attention. At this show, those things and more were delivered by the help of her band. Her stacks of vocal harmonies embodied by three vocalists, her grounding in jazz bolstered by funky keys and a melodic base and her rock/funk delivered by the guitarist and drums. The bursts of applause and cheers, especially mid-song, were a testament to the fact.
B-ahwe singing a rendition of her hit song 'Blue Print'
The ambiance of the venue (with antique chandeliers and stained glass mosaics above the bar and on the ceiling) also supplemented the atmospheric delight created by B-ahwe, the band and the audience. There is a common theme of togetherness that has often been present across gigs we’ve attended of B-ahwe and friends. It’s a certain intimacy you obviously get with small venues, but also with smaller artists. With a crowd so invested, things like the artist’s nervousness, fumbled commentary on songs and slight musical hiccups all became part of the experience that is so enjoyable. It reminds you that the artist is a real person, prone to the strengths and weaknesses we all face - and that builds real support. It makes you want to sing their songs back at them, for their expressions and responsiveness. It makes you want to dance with them, because it feels like a party you’re all there to enjoy together. It makes you want to give praise, because you know they’ll really appreciate it. It makes you really want to take up their offer to “come and say hi” after the show because you know you’ll have a great conversation, encapsulated by the after-show buzz, and that you might even buy an EP or some merch!
When an artist has real talent, and you can see it delivered on stage, you find yourself giving in. You believe, enjoy, love, and are left wanting to do it all over again. A love for an artist sometimes borders an emotional vulnerability where you trust the artist to take you through their journey and leave you enriched. And whilst there is still an enjoyable journey to go on with this artist, on that night, B-ahwe really took us through the motions.