An approving tweet from Prince will have been the first many heard of this entrancing future soul outfit. It is no mystery why the late singer was so mesmerised and made a point of seeking Hiatus Kaiyote out when they stopped by Minneapolis last year.
Fuelled by vocalist Naomi ‘Nai Palm’ Saalfield’s switchblade delivery, the Melbourne quartet flit between grooves and genres with swagger and precision, so that if feels they are channelling the best mix-tape ever.
On the second of two sellouts at the Sugar Club, Saalfield led the ensemble on a dazzling tour of their box of sonic delights.
As the title hinted, ‘Shaolin Monk Motherfunk’ combined soulfulness and high-kicking beats; ‘Nakamarra’ and ‘Cinnamon Temple’ showcased the molten tag-team of drummer Perrin Moss and bassist Paul Bender.
Prince was just first of many high profile admirers to rally behind the band. Animal Collective and The Roots’ Questlove have tweeted their love while, in the US, they are signed to Amy Winehouse producer Salaam Remi’s record label.
As their diverse cheerleaders suggest, Hiatus Kaiyote are difficult to pin down, splicing influences and dashing between genres with abandon. But perhaps the most impressive feat was their ability to communicate a singular vision even as they ranged all over the map.
Whether investigating sci-fi jazz on ‘Breath Underwater’ (for which they received the second of two Grammy nominations) or deploying blues arrangements on ‘Molasses’, their enthusiasm shone.
This was a good time crew whose ululations lifted the mood but also sweetened the soul. With any justice, the next time they perform in Ireland it will be to a considerably larger audience. Their time is surely at hand.
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