Kehlani

Photos by Len Panecki

By Jason Beardsley

Artist: Kehlani

Date / Venue: Sunday August 27th, 2017 - Forum Theatre Melbourne

Arriving over 45 minutes before doors we were amazed to see a huge line outside Melbourne's beloved Forum Theatre, extending well over a few blocks such is the popularity of R&B sensation Kehlani, making her Australian debut after what was a tough 2016 for the star. In fact such a sensation the venue for this show was upgraded due to overwhelming demand.

With the world as unstable as it is you don't mind the extra security measures, and unfortunately it was a slow moving line to get into the venue, meaning we missed the first 10 minutes of support act Joy, one of the most impressive upcoming electronic / Indie acts out of Brisbane Australia.

Her voice is compelling and soft as it swirls through the Forum’s famous night sky. You can't help but watch in awe as Joy and her touring band serenade the audience growing in size by the minute. She comes to sit at the front of the stage to get close to the audience and take the show to them as Melbourne embrace her like an angel, sent to calm and lift those in need. The white and burgundy lights glow from behind creating a halo around this unique Australian artist. The only bit of critique this writer has would be that the overall stage presence could improve. But for a touring band that's only been together for a week and at the young age of 19, you can only expect big things from Joy. An artist fit for theatres and the world.

A very young and diverse capacity audience is now in the theatre, and Kehlani's DJ gets this party started on what is a school night, with some current chart toping and old school R&B and Hip Hop, though slightly interrupted by a technical glitch, maybe this was part of the theatrics as the tunes crank up a level and the audience is immediately moving to that bass. That bass, my chest is being pounded and I find myself producing some moves of my own. It's a nice change having a DJ front and centre on stage keeping the audience entertained during changeover.

It's not long before Kehlani and her band come to the stage and the crowd are all up for it. Kehlani is front and centre with her dancers enthralling the crowd with 'Keep On'

It's not long before she introduces herself to the adoring audience, making sure she pronounces 'Melbourne' right, and claiming her excitement and gratitude for the support, enabling her to perform on this side of the world. 

The sound is soulful yet uplifting. It's drama, it's excitement and it's theatre. The drummer bringing the groove of a god with Kehlani moving about the huge stage effortlessly, and she owns it. 

I'm a fan already. 

We're taken back to her early mixtapes that earned her instant recognition and major label signing. 'If I take you back to a mixtape ya'll gonna f#%k with me?'. The audience lose their minds. Ain't nobody f#%king with her!. 

It's comforting to hear every lyric, such is the sound quality that the crew have managed to pull and the venues acoustics. You can feel her emotion in each song. Kehlani wants to teach people the lessons she's learnt through tough times, and ultimately make her fans happy. Mission accomplished. 

Kehlani's popularity certainly raised a couple of bars when DC's Suicide Squad was released into cinema featuring her song 'Gangsta', and my word was it a treat. Performed live, it was whole other level of a masterpiece. The light show only added to the drama. How is Kehlani only 22?!. This voice is insane and from someone so humble. 

The choreography is on point, and so is the band. One of the most talented touring bands I've seen in a long time, and the crowd is never lost or wanting. This party could go all through the night. This is beyond a triumphant debut to the Australian market.

It's wonderful to see how far the R&B star has come, and to see her so happy after last years attempt to take her own life. This is a life worth living. So many look up to Kehlani and you can see why. And she's there for us. 'I feel everything and everyone, everywhere all the time'.

What's amazing about Kehlani is that she is very intelligent and has educated herself on current world politics. There's a very important vote coming up in Australia surrounding Marriage Equality, which culminated in a rally with thousands of people in Melbourne on Saturday supporting Marriage Equality. Tonight something special happened at this show, which put the icing on the cake, as Kehlani pulled a couple of very special young women out of the audience leading to a Marriage proposal, to which the other said yes, to the delight of the thousands in attendance tonight.

It warms my heart to see all these people stand united as one. We're all born equal, and music brings us together, it always has and always will.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL KEHLANI GALLERY BY LEN PANECKI