Malaysian singer Yuna played to a full house on Feb. 5 at U Street Music Hall, courtesy of 9:30 Club.
Doors opened at 7 p.m., but by 6 p.m. a long line stretched from the entrance of the venue and curled around the corner at the end of the street. Concert-goers were buzzing in anticipation for the show, and squeals of adoration for the singer and sighs of appreciation for her music seemed to overpower the sounds of the city.
For the opening act, Jarell Perry, an R&B singer from California, treated the crowd to his contemporary soul music, mixing electronic sounds with silken vocals that had the women in the audience swooning. Although he was not well known, audience members quickly warmed up to his smooth crooning and by the end of his set, they were singing along and dancing.
After Perry, the excitement for the main act grew exponentially and the feeling in the air was electric. The cheers went from polite to deafening once Yuna strolled on, dressed in a sparkly cardigan and long, black skirt with her signature head-wrap, this time in a black and white pattern. She smiled brightly at the crowd and started off with her jazz-tinged song “Coffee,” quickly followed by the soulful “Falling” off of her latest album “Nocturnal.”
Experiencing her singing live is a spiritual experience, as Yuna she puts every fiber of herself into her performance. She danced, played guitar and told a few anecdotes. Overall she was so personable and relatable that it felt like seeing a friend’s cool, older sister on stage.
Highlights included an acoustic version of one of her earlier songs “Decorate,” a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking Bout You” featuring extensive use of a loop pedal and pop perfection “I Wanna Go” from her most recent album. For her encore, she ended the night with “Live Your Life”, her most well-known single produced by Pharrell Williams.
From her humble beginnings as a college student and part-time musician to playing sold-out shows on her very own headlining tour, Yuna has come a long way from being a young ingénue in Kuala Lumpur to working with the big names in music in L.A. It was thrilling to see such a hardworking artist see her dreams come into fruition yet still stay so friendly and modest. Her talent and personality are sure to draw even more fans and perhaps next tour, she’ll be playing at bigger venues to even bigger crowds.
Yuna’s newest album, “Nocturnal”, was released Oct. 2013 and is available now.