Roy Ayers, KYAMI: 24 Kitchen St, Liverpool
With funk icon Roy Ayers rocking up to Kitchen St, Lorna Dougherty catches a living legend in intimate surroundings.
Roy Ayers is a living legend status. He has nothing left to prove, yet at 79 his musicality remains formidable.
He seemed a bit frail when first making his way to the stage. He gave us that cool old man vibe, almost Attenborough-esque; powering through for the population who love them. But as he began to perform, his passion and love for music brought him alive. That same audacious smile we had seen on all of the promotional posters for the show was plastered on his face all night. It made him look much younger.
If you were one of the lucky (but very sweaty) people in the front row, we can guarantee that you were treated to a very personal performance, with the great man looking you directly in the eyes, and grinning uncontrollably.
He played some of his most appreciated songs – Everybody Loves the Sunshine and Searchin’ – which obviously received the warmest reaction. But with the crowd rammed from wall to wall, the entire set had everyone grooving throughout.
The most exciting moments came when he allowed the band to go on extended, jazzy, free style jams. Here, Ayers was in his element, conducting the band and creating music out of thin air. It was heart-warming to see Roy and the band interact. They clearly have a beautiful relationship, and it was clear how much of a good time they were all having smiling the whole gig.
This even extended to the crowd. Speaking to some members of the audience, it was clear people had travelled all over to see him. This gave the atmosphere a glow all night was amazing. One of the most pleasant, but exciting gigs Liverpool has seen all year.
Support tonight came from KYAMI. The crowd was already basically full for her set – which is always nice to see for a support act. She breezed through her folky, soul inspired repertoire, with the audience responding well. It is so easy when supporting such a legend to be merely tolerated by the crowd, but she was fully embraced.
And deservedly so. Though you can hear some of her influences in her work – most notably Anderson .Paak – she is also savvy enough to put her own spin on all of it. This means that although we could imagine her music on the radio in 2019, she is also unique enough to stand out in the crowd.