Rachel Chinouriri |  Live at Koko, London

The moment the lights went down to a single spotlight, Rachel Chinouriri sat on the edge of the stage before performing her fan favourite and emotionally charged breakout song, ‘So My Darling,’ is not unfamiliar to those who have attended a Rachel Chinouriri show. 

However, this time around felt different, with it taking place at her biggest headline show to date at Camden’s KOKO. Not to mention her parents, both having flown in from Zimbabwe, were present in the audience. As well as the fan-made signs that read “Remember We’ ‘ll Always Love You”, a lyric from the song that simultaneously went up before she began singing. Even Rachel couldn’t stop the emotions that captured her and many others who felt it present in the air at that moment. 

It was one moment amongst many in Rachel’s hour-long show, which left nothing on the floor. Serving as a preview to her upcoming debut album, What A Devastating Turn of Events, due for release in May, it was also a fantastic display of her artistic journey thus far. 

Nothing was missed, and everything from the set design to the lighting only enhanced the stunning performance from start to finish. Delivering high energy, incredible stage presence, top-tier vocals and everything in between. Anyone experiencing her love for the first time would’ve left a member of the darlings, her fiercely loyal and highly dedicated fan base who showed up and showed out for her. 

The connection to her fans is clear and apparent to anybody in that room. How she communicates and expresses her love is more of a friendship than a fandom per se. At the show, there was a letterbox in which they could post letters to her, which she would respond to, not to mention the posters and flags present to show her their love for her. 

Her ability to craft a show that felt like 15 minutes as opposed to an hour, effortlessly transitioning from one song to another with moments in between of sharing the context and lyrical meanings, was a very smooth process. By the time the final song arrived, it felt like the show could’ve continued for another hour. 

Eliminating things like visuals and all-out production, she instead opted for connection and very much let the music and the songs be the show. Her band contributed to that very well, with all instruments on and each band member doing what needed to be done. 

Her earworm melodies and songs undeniably make you want to move, jump, and dance. Pair perfectly with her incredible storytelling, often contrasting those sounds with deeper lyrical themes. Songs like the recently released title track ‘What A Devastating Turn of Events’ are perfect examples. A subject matter that is by no way a light one is also a display of her skill in telling a story in a way that touches in a way you don’t expect it to against the catchy, infectious baseline melody, which had the crowd bopping along too. 

The entire setlist was a series of moments that ranged from infectious dancing out loud, courtesy of songs like ‘I’m not perfect, but I’m trying’ and ‘If Only’, to belting out loud, thanks to ‘Never Leave Me’. Sonically rich displays from the new song ‘My Blood’ and cute acoustic moments on the final song of the night, ‘ Pocket, ‘ delivered in the encore. 

Overall, the show was a stunning view of why Rachel Chinouriri should not be slept on if that show was anything to go off on; it’s only onwards and upwards.

Words Seneo Mwamba

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