Yakul at the Pickle Factory

It’s a cold, drizzly November evening in East London – perfect conditions for ducking into a surprisingly cosy warehouse and being warmed by the grooves of Brighton’s finest future soul band, Yakul.

Soulful duo Ka-li open proceedings at the Pickle Factory. ‘KUDOS’ is my favourite of the songs from their recent Pipe Dream EP – Indigo Lily’s effortless vocals shimmer over Sam Posener’s guitar – which would also look effortless were it not for the incredible stank faces. Soaring production accompanies stunning closing songs ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ & unreleased ‘Be Alright’.

The stage becomes a lot busier to accommodate the 8-piece Yakul. Frontman James Berkeley sits front and centre stage with multiple keyboards & synths, surrounded by horns, rhythm (the other permanent Yakuls: Leo Utton, Sam Hughes & Tom Caldwell-Nichols) and backing singers. Many Yakul songs feature swirling cosmic refrains, so this almost circular arrangement is oddly satisfying; as the band plays, the sound orbits seamlessly around each part of the stage.

The whole set is rich with movement & colour; every different route the songs take is effortlessly executed, which is credit to how tight they are as a band. Everyone onstage has a chance to shine – Syd B’s verse on latest release ‘Holidays’ divided between backing singers Sylvia Mwenze & Scarlett Fae is a particular highlight. The pair’s harmonies throughout, often closely matched by trumpet and sax (Tommy Peach & Dan Cartwright) are a perfect addition to Berkeley’s soulful melodies & runs.

Other highlights include an audience sing along to intimate 2018 track ‘Realigned’ and an electrifying guest solo from Charlie Stacey on ‘Daydreaming’. A jubilant rendition of ‘Blossoming’ closes the show, which feels very appropriate. Watching Yakul continue to blossom feels like a very exciting journey to be part of.

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