Dim red lights illuminated exposed brickwork and warmed the room in anticipation of Poppy Ajudha’s first headline tour. A textile backdrop made in collaboration with Joy Miessi that read: “Radical intimacy is what we need” hung behind a busy band setup.
Support act Mali Hayes kicked off the show with delicacy, class and sophistication, performing new releases ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Come Closer’ and ‘Jump’ with a vulnerability and innocence that both disarmed and captivated her audience. Hayes’ angelic voice drifted over the crowd, with its smooth riffs and gentle tunes.
Soon enough, Poppy grooved her way onto stage, with a pixie crop with ends dipped in peroxide blonde and sporting a khaki check two-piece adorned with silver zips and buckles. With boundless energy and sass, she commanded the space with her animated dance moves and beaming smile.
Poppy is a captivating stage presence, delivering introspective, bittersweet lyrics through rich, jazz inspired tones. She offered thought-provoking and feminist infused explanations behind her songs, from probing messages of toxic masculinity to the overbearing expectations of society. Her latest single ‘Devil’s Juice’ clearly resonated with many in the crowed, as well as ‘Where Did I Go?’ and ‘She Is the Sun’. I was delighted when she performed my personal favourite ‘When You Watch Me’. Her audience responded appropriately, bouncing to her rhythmic soul and enchanting words borne out of pure, raw talent.
At the end of the gig, Poppy encouraged her audience to stop for a chat and check out her merchandise stand at the back of the room, where she was selling her album, posters and hand-dyed acid wash t-shirts, which she revealed she had made herself. Eager to engage, I told her I was reviewing her performance for The Gryphon.
“So how did I do?” she asked, sincerely.
You did amazingly Poppy.
Image credits: Caitlin Tilley