- 17 Nov 23
Kojaque charmed audience members in what proved to be a raucous home coming gig
The iconic Dublin Venue Vicar Street is almost square in shape, with the balcony hugging the walls in a U formation. The room goes dark, and is electric with anticipation when the stage finally lights up- there is a single lone figure on the stage. Everyone starts chanting 'Jackie Took the Soup', the title of the opening track of Kojaque's latest release 'Phantom of the Afters'.
The screaming is unbearable, as is the tension, when all of a sudden a stage light swivels around, and shines, not on the stage, but on the balcony where, Kojaque, in all his glorious stature, starts dropping raw bars while suited.
The 28 year old Cabra rapper turns and runs, appearing on stage a few moment later. My brother, who arrived momentarily after me, came up to me asking "Did you see that guy they kicked out?", to which I replied "That was fucking Kojaque Sam".
Changing out of the suit and tie for the 'Jackie Took the Soup' bit, Kojaque emerges triumphant on stage wearing a t shirt which reads 'fuck Kojaque'. There is something irrepressible about the performer.
When it comes to making a entrance, Kojaque kicks off the gig with an explosive energy and the crowd reciprocates at every juncture, when Kojaque leans in, the crowd leans in conspiratorally, when Kojaque leans out, the crowd leans in even more, they are quite literally lapping him up.
Unfortunately for the support act, Monjola, this intoxicating energy was nowhere to be seen until the headliner came on stage.
Monjola however brought his characteristic up beat charm and performed with his own flair, songs such as 'Big Fat Liar', which saw the venue fill with his suave singing and smooth beats.
Playing the song 'Eviction Notice', Kojaque commands everyone in the room to raise a phone or a lighter in side swaying camaraderie, and I can't help but think to myself this man's enormous charm is wasted on being a musician, and maybe in fact, Kojaque should instead consider being a cult leader.
Other concert highlights included comparatively mellow performance of 'What If' and 'Sex and Drugs', and 'Date Night' which saw a guest appearance from Luka Palm, who has a song writing credit on the track.
During 'Date Night' a fan through something up on stage at the performer (who had earlier that night had been gifted pints of Guinness from adoring fans), which I had half expected to be a bra or something indecent, but instead it was a Keffiyeh, the scarf symbolising the Palestinian people and their struggle. The rapper proudly draped the garment over his should and continued the performance.
It's worth noting that Kojaque has made a commitment on his Irish tour to sell his old merchandise to raise funds for Palestinian charities. Speaking on social media he said 'I'm finding it difficult to be active as I should be to promote the tour when there's genocide on my phone everyday'.
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The singer said he was going to sell dead stock from old tours and albums to raise money for Palestine saying 'this way you can get something and you can give something'.
The wearing of the Keffiyeh was a touching moment in a glittering gig, that was alive with a vital energy.
The culmination of this energy occurredwhen Kojaque played 'Town's Dead' which resulted in raucous shouting, cheering and jumping up and down.
Another aspect of showmanship and pageantry on Kojaque's behalf was the light design, which was extraordinary. The set was minimal, plain white, nothing on the flooring (Kojaque was barefoot for most of the show) but the lighting for the DIT fine art graduate was highly visual, and transformative.
At one stage, there was a huge series of chants for 'Keano, Keano, Keano' and my naive Cork self had thought former Manchester United footballer Roy Keane was set to make a surprise appearance when it was of course instead a chant for Kean Kavanagh, Kojaque's longtime collaborator and beats provider.
For his highly anticipated encore, Kojaque opened with a stunning spoken poem, detailing wealth inequalities in Ireland, drug decriminalisation, police brutality and the struggles of Irish youth. The performance left audience members silent, if only for a brief period.
The Vicar Street gig was a homecoming, one where the Cabra rapper dripped charisma like a broken tap drips water.