There is a look of euphoric incredulousness to Little Simz as she announces that tonight is the final show on her Poison Ivy tour. But this is unnecessary self-effacement from the 24-year-old London-based rapper, already at the end of promoting her second album, Stillness in Wonderland. Her naturalistic flow, jazz-infused beats and self-analysing lyrics have already made her a significant presence, with plaudits from everyone from Lauryn Hill to the Gorillaz.
It’s a warm early summer evening at Pumpehuset, made all the warmer by the 90s-infused harmonies of the opening act, RnB duo VanJess. The Nigerian-American sisters are brimming with grooves and good will, and after several months of only attending rather austere experimental sets this is a very welcome change to my listening habits.
Accompanied by drums, keyboards and a DJ, Little Simz jumps on stage to deliver a celebration of her work so far, even teasing a new track from her upcoming album. In a live setting her vocals are more raw, the occasional dreaminess of Stillness in Wonderland giving way to something more direct.
If you want a clear indication of the thoughtfulness of Little Simz’s approach to lyrics you have only to look to “God Bless Mary”. The song starts out as a classic ‘tales from the early days’ jam that takes a fundamental key change when Simz reimagines her days and nights spent honing her skills from the point of view of her neighbour Mary, who “has heard everything before the world has” and tacitly supported her by never complaining about the noise.
No one is likely to complain tonight either. Called back by the chants of the audience, Little Simz brings them on stage to the delight of everyone except a rather worried looking tour manager.