Daniel Caesar Proved Why He’s the New R&B Sensation at London’s KOKO

Feb 7 2018 BY Gerald Onyango

On what was a bitterly cold Monday, one of Toronto’s finest exports, Daniel Caesar performed the first of two sold-out nights at London’s much loved KOKO in Camden. Caesar for the last 4 years has slowly been making a name for himself with the release of his two stellar EPs Praise Break and Pilgrim’s Paradise. Following this, the release of his career breakthrough track, “Get You” featuring Kali Uchis shot the Canadian singer to stardom to where he then released his debut album Freudian. And it’s his debut album that’s been getting constant spins by me since its release in August 2017 and why I was eager to see the singer live.

 

Cosy is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Caesar’s staging; with an array of Persian rugs, lamps, a desk and even incense working together to create this homely and intimate feel. It’s almost symbolic of his sound and Freudian as a whole, as we get an idea of where the foundations for the album stem from – his bedroom, and he’s taking us back there to really understand his journey as an artist and ultimately as a human.

 

On all his projects, we’ve heard Caesar’s gospel influences and its this influence that started the concert with his backing singers singing the choir-esque bridge on the album’s title track, Freudian. “If you love me won’t you let me know…” reverberated around KOKO sending shivers down the Caesar-faithful crowd as he confidently stood to embrace everyone’s screams in his adidas trainers and loose hoodie.

 

Sitting on his stool and strumming his guitar Caesar sang the fan favourite “Best Part” and as he starts to croon the beginning of the song the crowd took over and sang it for him word for word. This became a constant theme of the night which led to Caesar directing them to sing the words due to them dominating Caesar’s singing. He then asked who in the crowd had been following him since Praise Break days and which led to him blasting through a slew of tracks from his earlier EPs, where his loyal fans joined in too. And while it’s great to see a young R&B artist, and a true one at that, have such a great and engaged audience; their dominance limited Caesar’s performance as we weren’t always able to hear Caesar’s impeccable swoons and musicality as a whole.

 

Nonetheless, standout album tracks like “Hold Me Down”, “Blessed” and “Take Me Away” were brilliant to hear live. At this point, the crowd’s voices were strained and this allowed for my personal favourites “Get You” and “We Find Love” to be heard better as he closed his show. With “Get You” he confidently sings the hit-song exactly as he did on the record and when Kali Uchis’ part comes in his guitarist steps up and effortlessly sings Uchis’ words as if it were hers. A deafening applause echoed around KOKO as Caesar then closes with the gospel-inspired “We Find Love” which becomes a sing-along with the audience who create this electric atmosphere which for me cemented Caesar’s global appeal and the possible new figurehead of alternative R&B.