Sampha Returns to Montreal and Astounds

Sampha show. Photo Michael Eidelson. Sampha show. Photo Michael Eidelson.

UK electronic artist Sampha made his return to Montréal less than four months after his last visit to our city. This time he’s on tour for his new critically acclaimed debut album Process. Sampha walks towards his position on stage in Theatre Corona steady and calm. He has a distinct attitude of confidence that doesn’t oversell itself to be anything other than genuine. A large applause echoed through the venue, it’s been a full week after the release of his latest project and it’s clear from the loud welcoming that Process is an early contender for one of the best LP’s this year.

Sampha opened the set with “Plastic 100°C” as the first song of the night. His vocals live are an impressive feat to watch be pulled off so effortlessly from the talented artist. The ability to pierce through ethereal instrumentations which are provided on all his songs while staying calm in the atmosphere he’s created is brilliant. “Reverse Faults” best demonstrates how wonderfully the production supports Sampha’s tone of voice. Halfway through the song Sampha sings “Took the break pads off the car / and I flew” which is accompanied by a drop in the production that propels the track to feel hard hitting and personal, especially when viewed live.

Watching him perform “Kora Sings” felt like exploring one of the temples in the video game The Legend of Zelda : Ocarina of Time. The delicate guitar plucking in the background that carries the track alongside the atmospheric flute playing felt outer worldly. Sampha didn’t shy away from showing off his dance moves while presenting the audience with fantastic vocal registrations that pushes its way to the foreground of the song. The light effects didn’t play a significant role in any of the performances, the mood for the entire night was established by the time Sampha walked onto the stage. “Blood On Me” was another highlight of the night. The track deals with how anxiety might manifest within a person and what it can feel like facing your own inner demons. It was one of the most powerful songs to be performed that night and resonated with me long after the night was over.

Sampha concluded his set with the track “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano”. One of the most stunning tracks off the album and it translation to the live stage is remarkable. Just Sampha and his piano surrounded by dim lights to have the focus on him and his story. The song was written in light of his mother passing away during the time he was working on the album. His anguish seeps through the piano keys and into his embellishing voice which left the audience at a gaze. He came back for an encore but the show really ended in true fashion with the performance of “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano”. If you hear of Sampha coming back to town then don’t sleep on his presence, get yourself a ticket and feed your soul for the evening.