On Friday night, Hiatus Kaiyote’s front woman Nai Palm performed solo, playing a mixture of new material, covers and Hiatus Kaiyote’s songs. What I witnessed, was one of the most authentic live acts I have seen yet.

Clever Austin, also known as Perrin Moss, the drummer/producer in Hiatus Kaiyote was the support act for the night. Having no idea what to expect from the evenings sets, I was a little confused when a young man casually walked onto the stage and sat down. It wasn’t until I heard the mixing of beats, that I realised this was the understated support act. As he started mixing, people started moving forward towards the stage and it became an intimate setting to the likes of a living room. It was as if he was mixing for a group of mates, with people sitting on the floor and on milk crates, not to mention Clever Austin performing in the comfort of a beanie, scarf and puffy jacket. This was going to be a very different gig and I was liking the vibe, the glass of wine in my hand seeming apt.

As Nai Palm took to the stage, she placed a handwritten set list on the floor and two palm trees on either side of where she stood. In a minimalist fashion similar to that of her support act, she stood alone with her electric guitar in-front of the room with a cute welcoming smile. The living-room vibe continued with more people now sitting in front of the stage as she launched into a number of stripped back Hiatus Kaiyote songs including ‘Breathing Underwater’, new song ‘Molasses’ and Grammy nominated ‘Nakamarra’. Throughout the set, you could hear her musical influences come through her soul/jazz numbers; the most prominent being that of Stevie Wonder. Her gritty vocals combined with her ability to fuse elements of jazz, soul and ambience into her guitar compositions, creating beautiful, soulful songs that excitingly pushed the boundaries of music genres.

Something you can not fault Nai Palm for is her genuine enjoyment of creating music. A particular highlight was when she played a song she declared to be only half-written, introducing the song by explaining that she wanted to share the songwriting process with the audience. It translated into music that was expressive and rich, and demanded a profound level of attention from the audience, sometimes bordering on hypnotising.

Despite Hiatus Kaiyote’s success in the last twelve months, it was truly impressive and inspiring to watch these musicians who remain authentic to themselves and their art, perform with such honesty and confidence in their own creative ability.

Kimberley Salmond


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