Zaki Ibrahim Adelaide Hall, Toronto ON, October 25
Published Oct 26, 2013"Let's have fun tonight, yeah?" said an exuberant Zaki Ibrahim while flanked by her two trusty (and talented) left- and right-hand women, General Electric (Tanika Charles) and Sgt. FeelGood. The moderately packed house was seemingly a mix of longtime diehards of the "electro-soul" singer-songwriter, along with neophytes checking what the 2013 Polaris Music Prize shortlister is all about.
Touted since the early-mid 2000s as one of the most engaging and versatile R&B singers this country has to offer, it is ironically her genre-blurring sound — elements of soul, hip-hop and electronic with notes of rock and pop for good measure — that has made her an underground darling, though she's still underrated by the mainstream.
Admittedly a shy person offstage, on it Ibrahim is a dynamo; she launched into "Everything" with her studio-ready vocals on point and her coordinated backup singers' movements in synch.
She overcame the early sound issues at the venue (she stopped mid-way in the set for an impromptu sound check, then kept things moving) and mixed her passionate presence with a professional ease. The set was heavy on Every Opposite — "Draw The Line," "Something in the Water," "Kids are Talking" all got stirring renditions — but it was tempered with choice cuts from her earlier EP efforts Shö (Iqra in Orange) and Eclectica (Episodes in Purple).
Closing things out with faithful renditions of "The Do" and "Stand So Hard," the entire set ran less than an hour, leaving many in the house wanting more. "Don't light my fire, unless you can burn with it," she sang on single "Go Widdit," reflecting the remarkable energy of both the set and Zaki as an artist.