Live Music Review: Sounds Against Slavery 2 at Rough Trade

Words: Maddy Hay
Monday 19 March 2018
reading time: min, words

Rough Trade was humming for a night of live music in aid of Anti-Slavery International, organised by the University of Nottingham’s Anti-Slavery Society in partnership with Impact Magazine...


The night was off to a wonderful start with self-coined “dream-folk fusion” artist, Leonora. Opening an event like this is always tricky, but the tone was set solidly: the arriving crowd were thoroughly buoyed.

A bit of high energy indie-rock never fails to get the Rough Trade folk going and The Long Islands were no exception. The tight three-piece neatly wove some 80s-inspired pop into their set. A perfect formula: the eager crowd were throwing shapes by 8pm.

Once the third act came on, the night was unmistakably in swing. The audience were chatting enthusiastically, but Katie Cooper took on this challenge confidently. By the end of the first song, all eyes faced the stage. Cooper's voice was warm and she sang her lyrics with purpose. Accompanied by just one other bandmate (Nathan Hart on lead guitar/bass), Cooper gained traction with every new track. The set blossomed impressively into some arresting ballads.

The Rough Trade beer was flowing and the venue was full by the time the penultimate act took to the stage. Julia Joyce proved herself an essential addition to the line-up. Performing with a full band (complete with trumpet), in Joyce’s rich voice we heard echoes of the late Amy Winehouse, an artist who she later cited as an influence.

Sounds Against Slavery veteran Kwoli Black was met with open arms as he returned to the RT stage - this time as the headline act. This artist’s momentum has rumbled on over the past year, in part owing to his excellent stage presence. Kwoli Black is at ease, teasing the crowd, coaxing people to sing along and pausing for quips and conversation.

It’s not just his chat that we stayed for. His brilliant band built layers of rhythm steadily and kicked the dance levels up a notch as the audience moved from hip-swaying to full-body-boogie. Thematically, freedom is important in Kwoli Black’s writing. His affecting lyrics always hit hard and felt particularly relevant during a night such as this.

Props to the Anti-Slavery Society and all the acts for putting together such a successful event. The lively atmosphere remained conscious of the Anti-Slavery cause and to raising all-important funds. To learn more or donate, go to Roll on SAS3!

Sounds Against Slavery 2 took place at Rough Trade Nottingham on Thursday 15 March 2018. 

University of Nottingham Anti-Slavery Society Facebook

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