Kindness @ CCA, Glasgow, 18 Feb
As Kindness, Adam Bainbridge delivers a captivating masterclass in performing like no one’s watching, whilst simultaneously fixating the audience on your every move
When we arrive, a loosely filled audience at the CCA are already entranced by AKUA, who has just begun her mesmerising set of hazy, hypnotic R'n'B. “Sorry I’ve been quite low energy...” she apologises as she finishes, "but Kindness will get you dancing.” She isn’t lying.
Accompanied by a three-piece band, featuring vocal contributions from AKUA, Kindness opens with their 2012 rework of The Replacements’ indie-rock cut Swingin’ Party. The smouldering synth-pop of Send to Robyn Immediately follows, a track that Kindness co-penned and produced for Robyn’s 2018 album Honey. Halfway through, a sample of the soaring horn-and-strings riff of Chic’s I Want Your Love causes the crowd to take flight. The silver, sequined glow of Adam Bainbridge's outfit substitutes for a glitterball, and a sleepy school night at the CCA morphs into Studio 54.
A 75-minute set that transcends funk, disco, 90s R'n'B, house and indie proves that Bainbridge isn’t a stickler for convention. Their pliability and free spirit are infectious, and the fluidity of the crowd’s dancing represents how being in Kindness’ space takes you well and truly off grid.
It's Bainbridge's adept ability to build rapport with the audience that keeps us encapsulated in their bubble; at one point they split the room in two and step into the crowd to lead a soul train down the middle. The love is reciprocated, as AKUA takes centre-stage on a cover of Lumidee’s noughties R'n'B hit Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh), the 'uh oooh's tonight replaced with 'Glasgow' by the audience, with an impromptu a capella ensuing.
The night's penultimate track, The Warning – arguably Something Like a War’s highlight, and another Robyn collaboration – dials down the tempo. “This album was a really personal one," Bainbridge says, almost apologetically. "I have to bring you down again." But, as AKUA coos the agonising lines of its chorus ('Please just tell me, that it hurts'), the once rapturous crowd is now stationary and solemn.
Bainbridge's phone book may be a catalogue of some of the world’s most illustrious songwriters and performers (Robyn, Solange, Dev Hynes, Jazmine Sullivan), but tonight, if nothing else, they’re just our new favourite dancing partner.