Normanton Street – Pop Brixton, London – 28th September 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

What a year it’s been for Normanton Street and QM Records. From countless sold-out show, excellent singles, and a style and musical diversity that has generated a genuine scene in Brighton, both the band and label have grown from strength to strength in 2018. Their show at Pop Brixton – their last for a while due to lead singer Phoebe Pearce’s pregnancy – was a beautiful celebration of Brighton talent in an exquisite venue. From soul, to hip-hop, and r’n’b, QM Records have always showcased the smoother side of the industry and this was no different.

Chloe Bodur, fresh from her comeback at The Hope & Ruin on Monday, opened the show with her glamorous soul. It’s hard not to be impressed by the 20-year-old’s maturity in owning the stage, and her band’s brilliant languid style. With old songs – including excellent debut single ‘Glory’ which continues to electrify, as well as a whole host of new ones, this looks set to a new era for the Brighton-based soul star.

Next up was a solo set from Yakul frontman James Berkeley. Usually a four-piece, with an extended backing section, this was a stripped-back affair but no less remarkable. With just Berkeley sat at a keyboard, this could have lost its way in the vastness of Pop Brixton’s hustle and bustle, but Berkley’s soulful tones captivated the excited audience. Of course, 2018 single ‘Realigned’, a beautiful, soothing soul number, was the highlight, but this was a surprisingly powerful set.

Bobbie Johnson, renewed from her recent single ‘Another Man’ and EP launch show at the Green Door Store last week, performed the main support slot in an invigorating set. Having seen the MC countless times here at Brightonsfinest, in which we’ve described her as a “Formidable presence” and “uniquely textured”, the starlet has, somehow, continued her rise to the unstoppable. With ‘Another Man’s glorious chilled-out moments superbly juxtaposed with ‘Bang’s fiery dubstep-meets-grime, Bobbie Johnson is the whole package.

Despite each and every artist performing an exceptional set, it’s hard not to say that Normanton Street didn’t top the night off with the best set of the evening. Opening with arguably their biggest song, ‘Take A Walk With Me’ – a soothing, waltzing number that eased the crowd into a night of hip-hop-meets-soul and showcased each member’s superb abilities on stage – it got better and better until its climactic finale.

With songs like ‘Angelene’ and final song ‘That’s It’, which features one of the finest basslines in recent memory, Normanton Street are an impressive entity and an incredibly talented trio. A band with an already killer back catalogue and a label with enough prowess to put on events such as this and showcase talent as well as this, Normanton Street are building a legacy worthy of legends. As final shows in a while go, this is about as good as it gets and it will live in the memory for a very long time.

Liam McMillen