Maverick Sabre in Norwich: soulful melodies for the masses

From his origins as just another London teen trying to make it in hip-hop to a pop sensation with a gold-certified debut album to his name, Maverick Sabre has ridden the hype train all the way to the top. Off the back of his independently released third record When I Wake Up, his recent show at Norwich’s Epic Studios made for quite the trip down memory lane.

Waltzing in a little late at the back of Epic’s vast floor finds a diverse array of individuals gathered. With a career spanning ten years and a host of genres, from radio-friendly R&B to grime, rap and garage, 28 year old Sabre has found fans in all sections of society. The exceptional range of age, gender, race, and character in each face eagerly assembled tonight represents that.

Backed by a live guitarist, bass, keys, and drummer, Sabre coaxes the room through the classics from Lonely Are the Brave, his 2011 debut which has since sold over a quarter of a million copies. Pounding and brassy, Let Me Go is a real highlight, sounding just as dynamic as when it smothered the airwaves almost eight summers ago, while the dulcet tones of I Used To Have It All instill a similar warmth into the stiff crowd. He demonstrates skilful showmanship throughout; “can you be my Norwich choir?” he asks, easing the tension with some audience participation on his sweeping choruses.

A section of covers pay tribute to “songs we love and enjoy”, including a sultry take on Craig David’s ‘7 Days’, before cuts from the new record When I Wake Up are showcased. Into Nirvana has an underwater quality in its looping, downbeat verses and Drifting gets hips grooving. Realistically, lead single Slow Down will never be half as good without its on-record co-star Jorja Smith, but Mav does well by himself, and his now loosened-up Norwich choir do their part to help. He dances carefreely across the huge stage, at one point laughing “I need to start doing some cardio!” By the end, the whole room dances with him.

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