Arooj Aftab – Leaf, Liverpool – 5 Feb 2022

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I stumbled across the wonderful music of Arooj via my favourite source of new music, KEXP, see the video below. I was mesmerised and blown away, so I had to catch her UK tour. Originally from Pakistan, but long based in Brooklyn, her recordings and performances have just started getting worldwide attention and she is going to be a big name soon. Couldn’t originally manage her Glasgow date so decided to take the trip to a place I’ve never been, Liverpool ! Had a great time around town (including the Cavern Club obviously) then to the really cool, smallish venue above Leaf café. A nice but low key room for a Grammy nominated International star!

And what a superb performance we all witnessed. Such a smooth and emotional singer who has a brilliant choice of what to western ears might sometimes sound odd notes … but in the context of Sufi style and melodies … just so right. You don’t need to understand Urdu to feel the dark intensity of her emotions. Lovely contribution on double bass from Petros Klampanis too. But the equal highlight for me of her ‘Vulture Prince’ album, and these performances, is the stunning Celtic Harp playing of Maeve Gilchrist … all the way from Edinburgh via New York! Magical, incredible, virtuoso playing … an unusual contrast for the style of music but so melodic and dynamic, I can’t get enough of her playing now, including her own albums and performances. Recommend you check out Arooj and Maeve . So happy, I couldn’t stop smiling all night!


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