The Californian performer Kehlani summoned their Glasgow audience through a journey that promised all of the elements on this Blue Water Road trip!
This was Kehlani’s first visit to Scotland in over five years, having released two albums in that time and kept fans eagerly awaiting the experience of one of the artist’s vibrant live shows. Finally, this 2022 tour did not disappoint!
Opening the gig was singer-songwriter Destin Conrad, impressing the crowd with his soothing R&B vocals, fun beats and honest lyrics. A close friend of Kehlani’s who has been in the studio with them and written on successful tracks from their discography, Conrad’s set provided more justification that he is one to watch! The artist and DJ Noodles followed; igniting the crowd in their own set laden with remixes of the finest pop, R&B and electronic tunes, before playing throughout the gig as Kehlani’s on stage DJ. Noodles brought the high energy which stuck with the Scottish crowd as the gig peaked.
The 53rd night of Kehlani’s second world tour fell on Glasgow’s 02 Academy, and it was evident that their growth in artistry, confidence and performance was only expanding day and night. The setlist featured music from across their multiple EPs and albums, structuring the show in an exciting way as it separated into four different sections: Air, Fire, Earth, Water.
Kehlani is revered amongst fans not just as a talented artist but as a spiritual and candid person, with this move signalling how this embeds into their stage presence and performance. The tactical and deliberate placement of each song alongside the division of the set into these different moments gave the audience a creative pause and transition between the various parts of the show.
Songs from their new album Blue Water Road filled the opening Air section, resonating the growth Kehlani discusses in recent interviews around writing and producing this album. Shooter interlude and More Than I Should felt particularly captivating live, showcasing the artist in their finest yet newest era as they dominated the stage and their audience. The effortless way in which Kehlani’s vocals riff and run parallel with the rhythms and melodies of their songs made for such an entertaining listen live.
The following Fire section, dripping in new and older songs, showcased some of the vulnerable but empowering moments we have seen from this performer in their art through the years. Kehlani gave fans that chance to reflect upon the environment not just of this live gig, but the further spaces in which these songs may feature in our lives. This section also featured the now infamous Hate the Club moment, as Kehlani serenaded fans in a performance that is now bound to go viral.
Famous for their mainly R&B vocals and flowing performances, Kehlani has always been celebrated as a powerful and open artist. This echoed in the strong and seductive moments of the gig where they celebrated their own, as well as the audiences, queerness. In the Earth section of the set, Kehlani impressed with a performance of their acoustic queer hit Honey. Not only did this stripped back moment flaunt the raw and rhythmic vocals behind the hits, but also the sensitivity and representation which this artist on stage embodies for so many of their fans. This section also saw some of Kehlani’s biggest moments, including Grammy nominated songs Distraction and Wish You Were Here, roll out pleasingly across the Academy’s stage.
The Water section followed, with the audience lapping up the production of Kehlani and their talented dancers, as the choreographed routines and smooth moves kept the crowd dancing and added a final flair to that on stage performance. Finishing the night with the encore, it was 2017 hit CRZY which gripped fans. As much as this was a strong ending to the gig, each section of this show could have felt like an encore with the way Kehlani delivered on stage. After that gig, lets just hope it’s not another five years before we see Kehlani play Scotland again!