Ah, Mabel. She really held her own during this gig, on the Birmingham date of her first headline tour. Kojo Funds did not appear to sing his bit of ‘Finders Keepers’, but Mabel really did not need anyone else.
A woman in her early twenties, Mabel McVey has an interesting background. Born in Malaga and growing up in both Stockholm and London, with famous parents of a musical background to boot, Mabel has plenty to say for somebody so young. Her songs sound fresh and original, as well as deeply personal and emotional. And they are all so catchy. Her voice is kind of raspy and her accent is very London. At the O2 Institute, she donned a metallic silver bralet and tracksuit combo, paired with her signature long, sleek, black hair. She looked awesome. The outfit was like a spacesuit but fashionable. She brought tonnes of energy to the small stage, dancing voraciously to her songs, obviously loving her own music. She seemed young and mature at the same time, dealing with heavy lyrical content in a playful way. I wondered if she would be able to fill a whole hour, given that her Spotify account only boasts seven songs (excluding remixes). But she also performed songs like ‘Roses’ from the EP (to be released next week), which got the crowd excited, even though they didn’t know the words.
She brought tonnes of energy to the small stage, dancing voraciously to her songs, obviously loving her own music
Supporting this London singer was Mahalia, a Leicester-born, Birmingham-raised singer with a delicate voice vaguely reminiscent of Jorja Smith. With her little blonde bob, she sang relatable and touching songs about the feeling of being 17 and trying to get a job while in high school. She told the crowd anecdotes about growing up in Birmingham, like the fact that she went to school just down the road from the venue. My Brummie friend had recommended Mahalia to me a day before I went to the concert, and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised to find myself listening to her music for the first time live. Songs like ‘17’ and ‘Sober’ were particularly good, as was her final song, a mash-up cover of Solange Knowles’ ‘Cranes in the Sky’ and SZA’s ‘The Weekend’, which emphasised the sheer niceness of her high-pitched voice.
Mabel soon followed Mahalia, opening with ‘Bedroom’, a song about an exclusively sexual relationship which is more pain than pleasure. The confidence with which she sang about relationships was really empowering – she was a super self-assured woman onstage. The lyrics were relatable for the audience of late teens and early twentysomethings, all looking pretty cool and a little bit indie. ‘Talk About Forever’ got people singing along, and ‘Fine Line’, the new song teased at the end of the ‘Finders Keepers’ video, got people dancing to its jumpy, bouncy rhythm. The crowd cheered when Mabel said “I’ll keep dropping these tunes, you keep listening to them, yeah?”.
The lyrics were relatable for the audience of late teens and early twentysomethings, all looking pretty cool and a little bit indie
After only 40 minutes of her performing, Mabel announced that she would sing her last song and asked the crowd to wave their phone torches to the touching ballad. The disappointment of her leaving the stage so early was flipped on its head as a successful (and probably expected) encore lured the singer back to the stage to perform ‘Thinking of You’ and, finally, her real breakout song, ‘Finders Keepers’, with the crowd eagerly singing Kojo Funds’ first line before Mabel cut through them with her first verse.
The vibes were fantastic, the place wasn’t too packed and the ticket was cheap! Roughly a tenner to go and see an artist who I think is going to make huge waves across the UK. Talent, personality and style – Mabel’s got it all.