Kymberley Kennedy at Kennedy’s Bar & Restaurant, York

On Sunday evening, local electro-soul/pop sensation Kymberley Kennedy brought two alternative RnB hours to her namesake Kennedy’s Bar & Restaurant. These now regular Sunday live music nights are proving popular at this lively city venue and who better than Kym to ensure that no one there wanted the weekend to end.

By Blue Wilson

Photos by Andy Argyle

York Calling were once again delighted to make one in for this rapidly rising talent on the slipstream of her latest single Head Games, her Make Me Wanna EP and in the excitement of her forthcoming debut album. If she was nervous at all she certainly didn’t show it as she performed her very generous set with the help of Miles Williams on bass guitar, David Soulsby on keyboards and guest drummer Joey Leyland from York band Blind Eye.

With a soulful shake and sultry stir she poured a potent mix of original songs laced with edgy sampling and backing tracks, reminiscent of Massive Attack and Morcheeba, alongside some choice covers which laid bare her own musical tastes and influences. This Breakspoll winner and Grassroots nominee kicked off with That’s What He Said, belting it out in the intimate candle lit setting. The acoustics in there enhanced Joey’s skilful drum-beats as the mood was elevated and the audience embraced the dance sounds and Kym’s seductively velvet vocals. The tantalising intro’ of Heat came next unravelling into a strong cover of her contemporary Allesia Cava’s recent single. Her powerful vocals conveyed an admiration for this number and its origin. This girl has a determined attitude and voice to match, almost too big for the space it inhabited as she then seamlessly ended the track with its slice of Portishead. I Decide brought electronic vibes, and a rousing, sprinting melody.

As the appreciative gathering and spirits grew the recently released Head Games played out strikingly with echoic intro’, electro pulses and bassy keyboards that made your chest thud, feet tap and head nod in sonic satisfaction. She lured the listeners in next with the fabulous Make Me Wanna, purring out those lyrics languidly before cutting through the air with fierce vocal flexibility. A hint of Skye Edwards in Hit and Run combined with heady keyboards and banging drums then before mellower Glitter & Gold like a deep breath before her next belter. Intense and sombre Why contrasted with a fun, funky and sexy rendition of No Diggity, a great choice, getting more up and dancing on this mid-September night. With everyone still swaying from familiar grooves, she gently delivered DKM (don’t know me) with simple keyboard accompaniment, ebbing and flowing beautifully with haunting key change and melody.

After a break the full ensemble return with a thumpingly applaudable cover of firm favourite Rolling in the Deep then a shift in tempo and flavour with a trip-hop style evocative rendition of I Need Your Lovin’. The place filled with the moody bass lines and chilled out reggae beats of Hokum onto the Mutya Buena like, softer pop style Pacify. She hypnotised as she roared out a rockier version of Play Me, with sounds dropping then building to full effect. She put her own lusciously smooth acid-jazz spin on Stevie Wonder’s Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day, twisting up the end with excerpts of Dirty Diana. With the flick of her hips and a switch in pitch she rocked it out with her penultimate number and cover of Lenny Kravitz Fly Away. She then mashed it up to finish with her original All I Wanted and its explosive chorus.

Kymberley’s enjoyment and love of performing is evident in every astonishingly soaring high note and all the rhythmically rich sensual harmonies. With her band she plays out each song with a steadfast commitment and passion to every note.

See Kym play next at York’s Little Festival of Live Music on Friday 30 September 2016 at The Music Marquee on Parliament Street, as part of the York Food and Drink Festival.


Head Games is available on iTunes:

Kymberley Kennedy played at Kennedy’s Bar & Restaurant on Sunday 18 September 2016