Jordan Rakei at Brighton Music Hall, 11/13: Part-time Magician, Full-time Musician

by Jun Han Huang


Fresh off the release of his 3rd full length album Origin, Jordan Rakei (pronounced Ra-kay), once again graced our Boston shores with his presence.

Opening on Rakei’s behalf was London based artist Sam Willis; his refreshing fusion of neo-soul and pop mirrored Rakei’s own music and served as a perfect introduction to Rakei’s eventual set.
After a short pause, Rakei and band stepped out amongst the haze and light to face the crowd. Dressed casually yet confidently in a loose t-shirt and cap, Rakei, looked very much at home away from home. His opening salvo of songs was a powerful demonstration of neo-soul, boasting iconic songs as ‘Midnight Mischief’, ‘Sorceress’ and ‘Add the Bassline’.

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All throughout, the crowd was thoroughly enchanted under his spell; Rakei alternated from guitar to keyboard to deliver unto us layer after layer of groovy goodness, all the while continuing to serenade us with his velvet smooth voice. The crowd did not sing. They did not dance. All that was mustered was a gentle bob to each beat, fully mesmerized by Rakei’s alluring falsettos and accompanying melodies.
Breaking away from his traditionally groovy sound, Rakei softened the tone of his set with a psychedelic rendition of ‘Eye to Eye’. If at any point during this song did a fellow viewer feel that the beats rendered could not possibly be achieved by a single man, they would be correct. In order to fully replicate his iconic layered sound, Rakei brought not one but two dedicated percussionists on tour; working together in perfect syncopation, and with the assistance of a heavily abused effects pedal, the bands’ collaborative efforts brought Brighton music hall to a place beyond time and space.
In terms of venue, Brighton music hall was the perfect environment to house Rakei and band. Its laborious smoke machine coupled with the intimate stage size allowed for Rakei to deliver yet another inspiring performance. Not to mention, the at times scorching stage lights, illuminated Rakei in golden light, relegating the rest of his band to smoke and shadow. Be it intentional or not, the effect left the audience like some sort of religious congregation, with Rakei their ostensible god.

If Rakei could be compared to whisky, simultaneously raw yet refined, we, his smitten viewers, might soon be alcoholics. Each sip complementing the next, building upon one another to culminate into a well-bodied combination of smoke, and melody.

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