K’Naan; Beats The Rain

Yesterday was an unusually sunny day in September for Vancouver. But when chilled out, local man with a message (see: love is not war) Chin, opened for K’naan last night, so did the heavens. Chin may have been lyrically lacking (again, see: love is not war) but his eclectic sound of bass, bongos and a violin, started the night off with a relaxed yet wet atmosphere as the crowd built up at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park.

The rain was on and off, but Shad got the crowd sufficiently warmed up with his enthusiastic but laid back style of hip hop comparable to Lupe Fiasco, with some mean freestyle thrown in for good measure. His tune ‘Rose Garden’ went down particularly well, with the evening appropriate hook “There’s gonna be some rain sometimes”. And by the end of his set the rain made it clear it was there to stay.

When K’naan bounced on to the stage with big energy that he carried throughout the night, the rain was soon forgotten. K’naan quickly showing Vancouver that he’s much more than the voice behind ‘that song’ that we’ve all heard continuously pumping out of every radio, television, retail store and sports fan for the past 8 months. This is an artist with a diverse repertoire of sensitive poetic ballads and solid, high energy hip hop hits – Bang Bang (She shot me) and T.I.A (This is Africa) being obvious favorites of the fans in the crowd.

The tour band consisting of keys, drums, electric guitar and a bongo was tight, with a clean sound pouring out from the stage in to the drizzly night. And as the multi colored stage lights lit up the individual falling drops, the rain started to feel as if it was a cleverly conceived, well orchestrated part of the simple but effective stage show. This was especially true as the soaked crowd sang along “yeah yeah yeah” a cappella in ‘Take a Minute’, and during ‘Fatima’ written about and for K’naan’s teenage sweetheart who was shot and killed at 14 in Somalia.

K’Naan sung with the passion of a musician who appears to truly believe the message in his own music and had great interaction with the very vocal crowd (who were more than happy to play along). He had no qualms in milking his final song – the Olympic anthem ‘Waving Flag’ – for everything he could. He built up the intro slowly and once again the rain came into play as he encouraged the masses to sing like they were in the shower. And who could blame him, it’s a song worthy of the airplay it received and was an epic finish to a great night.

The fans made their appreciation clear and stuck around for an encore or two. I didn’t though; did I mention it was raining? I could catch my death out there.

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