Sampha at Aviva Studios, Manchester – music master wows in-the-round

Sampha and his incredible band had us enamoured from the very start.

Clementine Hall Clementine Hall - 16th February 2024

In a gig we waited seven years for, Sampha proved he is the master of his craft.

Celebrating his second album, LAHAI, Mercury Prize-winner Sampha headlined his first Manchester show in nearly seven years last night.

And it was well worth the wait.

As one of only two UK stops on his 2024 tour, we felt extremely lucky to watch the UK breakout star take to the stage at Aviva Studios.

Taking place in the formidable warehouse space, excitable crowds flocked in a circular motion to secure their spot around the stage.


For such a vast space, performing in-the-round created a real sense of intimacy that wouldn’t have been made possible in any other venue.

Image: Supplied

Gazing onto the stage filled with electronic keyboards, synthesisers and drums – the anticipation to see someone who’s since grown to be a global icon since last in the city was truly immense.


But we didn’t have to wait long as the London-born singer songwriter plunged us straight into the deep end with emotive hit Plastic 100°C.

An honest reflection of both love and fear, Sampha and his incredible band had us enamoured from the very start and we knew we were in for a great night.

His new album, LAHAI, shows just how much he’s grown since first breaking out on the music scene back in 2017.


From what was first heart-wrenching meditations of discovery now had sounds of acceptable and joy throughout, and truly it was a joy to hear.

Making his way through the album we of course were treated with tender ballad (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano, and even as the first chords were struck there was a communal sigh amongst the audience.

There were most definitely some wet eyes amongst the crowd as Sampha wistfully opened up his heart to us.

Image: Supplied

But it wasn’t all melancholy meditations, Sampha and his crew jumped around the stage interacting with the audience, at one point communally banging a drum in the centre of the stage.

The new tracks took unexpected twists and turns, introducing flavours of jazz, soul, rap, dance and jungle which the band and himself merged seamlessly with their already mastered R&B genre.


Highlights included the vocally layered Suspended and piano-heavy Dancing Circles, both of which I’m sure many of us played through our speakers as soon as we got in (myself included).

Ending triumphantly with Blood On Me, the lights turned red on Aviva Studios as we danced as a singular and were reminded just what a talent Sampha truly is.

And we left hoping he wouldn’t leave it another seven years until he comes back.

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Featured image – Supplied