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MTMBO - A Performance Review.

Updated: Jan 29


Photography by Elena Cremona

Shoeless and pacing as he practiced, I listened to the echoes of a melody being sung before I returned to the performance space. Adorned with a strip of neon purple light and a hanging fixture, the stage featured no more than a piano, a chair and a white light in the shape of a flower sat in the middle of the room in a circle of soil. “I like being in the earth, I like gardening…” Richie Matembo AKA MTMBO tells me when I ask about the theme; as he wanted to let his personality ooze out within this intimate and memorable performance in this giant concrete block known as The Silver Building.

Not only was GRIP the name of Richie’s most recent EP, it was also the title of the performance that this London based singer-songwriter presented, which was driven by ambient and soulful influences. This London show was the final of a trio where other locations included Bristol and Birmingham. Opening with track from the new EP, 'Days End' was a swooning number that gripped (excuse the pun) the audience as we stood surrounding him. It was apparent this lyrically focused and delicate spectacle was supposed to be easy on the eye and something to sink into. MTMBO was supported by multi-disciplinary artist Nadeem Din-Gabisi in which he featured a number of spoken word pieces which intertwined with a gentle crooning in the background. Nadeem accompanied Richie for this particular performance after finding each other on social media. The pair combined a healthy mix of tender poetry, sampling with touches of African essence, whilst each song was sung with deep passion and a rawness that was only further strengthened with the artistic creative direction for the stage setup. 'Headlights' followed after some time and was milder and lethargically tranquil than the original track, but still featured its knocking metronome beat.

Popular tracks such as ‘The Hill’ were featured (a track that was also shown on the popular channel COLOURS, staged in a lavender coloured room) It was a performance with a dreamlike aura and also in an incredibly silent atmosphere so we could hear every word, piano key and transition.‘Wasn’t Really Thinking of You’, a track from the new EP was one that I resonated with as it played towards the end. Even though there was not much movement throughout the night, there was a thick energy that filled the space with a bonafide sense of emotion.

An ethereal and meaningful performance that was elegant and audibly stunning till the very end.


Take a look at clips of the performance below with an exclusive commentary from both Richie and Nadeem.





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