Photos and Review by Emily Gringorten
Sampha absolutely crushed his sold out performance at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on October 29, 2023. The UK based singer-songwriter is touring in support of his newest release Lahai, which came out just a week prior.
Shortly after 9pm, the elusive singer took the stage and opened with a transcendent mashup of “Plastic 100°C” and “Hold On,” his collaboration with producer SBTRKT. The stage design was very simple, with no screen or visuals to distract us from the magic on stage. Placed behind his band on a raised platform, he appeared humble and unassuming at first, but would later emerge from the shadows and make his way to every corner of the stage. Sampha effortlessly cruised through the setlist of new and old tracks, somehow sounding better than he does in his recordings.
Halfway through, his band members then left the stage so he could perform solo the clear fan favorite “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” which was met with long and thunderous applause. Other highlights for me included Lahai singles “Spirit 2.0” and “Only,” along with a drum circle featuring his whole band. His passion for what he does is apparent and infectious, and I felt inspired as I watched him belt out ballad after ballad. He concluded with the triumphant and high energy “Blood On Me,” before disappearing offstage while fans chanted “one more song!” He abided, and played “Happens” before heading off for good, leaving us all wanting even more.
The Lahai Tour is just beginning, with more US dates this year and international dates early next year. This is his first release since 2017’s Process, which won him a Mercury Music Prize. Sampha has built a strong reputation for himself between his deeply moving and introspective lyrics, stunning vocals, and collaborations with huge names like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Frank Ocean. This show is a must see for music lovers, and if you get the chance to catch him on this tour, don’t miss out!