All Night Long
Michael KiwanukaSt. David's Historic Sanctuary, March 16
Downtown during South by Southwest is best described as total fucking chaos, an unrelenting assault on the senses. Michael Kiwanuka's soft, sweet acoustic set in St. David's Historic Sanctuary was a blissful respite from the madness and a perfect pairing of artist and venue. Accompanied only by a bassist, the London-born singer-songwriter shared tunes from his forthcoming debut, Home Again, with an audience so quiet you could hear the camera shutters of the front-row photographers. Sitting in pews has that effect on folks. Standing in front of a white candlelit altar, Kiwanuka began with the bittersweet "Always Waiting" and "I'm Getting Ready," two songs as sincere as they are simple. In this setting, "Tell Me a Tale" took on an otherworldly quality, tapping deep into the gospel tradition as Kiwanuka's voice reverberated off the tall, vaulted ceilings. "Lasan," a recent collaboration with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, ached just right and highlighted Kiwanuka's graceful songcraft: "Just you live your every day like you're running out of time/Say the things you say, don't leave any word behind/Try to find you something that won't fade away in time."