Lianne La Havas at The Independent, by Lorisa Salvatin
Lianne La Havas (photo: Lorisa Salvatin)

Photos and words by Lorisa Salvatin

A line forms at The Independent an hour and a half before the doors open.  Above it, a marquee highlighting the name “Lianne La Havas” and below it, “Sold Out.”  A few fans at the head of the line have their own mini pre-show, singing passionately along to “Gone” as the music video plays on their phone.  With her exponential rise since releasing her latest album Blood, Lianne La Havas returned to San Francisco to perform sold out back-to-back concerts at The Independent.

Keenan O’Meara’s acoustic folk tunes gave a humble beginning to the show, creating an air of solitude with his minimal set up and clear, resonant vocals.  Similar to Bon Iver or City and Colour, the Maryland-based singer-songwriter pairs his somber voice with the push of strong melodic chords and the pull of quiet strums, creating an adventurous, yet nostalgic mood.

O’Meara’s quiet energy complemented the vibrant explosion of color and sound exhibited by Lianne La Havas and her band.  Their electric performance awed the crowd, performing such upbeat grooves as “What You Don’t Do” and “Is Your Love Big Enough?” La Havas would slow it down, weaving in intimate solos of “No Room For Doubt” and “Tease Me.”  She also brought out O’Meara for a duet of “Wonderful.”

“I died and came back to life” Lorenzo Artadi, 26, tells the crowd around him after a song.

Each in-sync clap, snap, and ringing harmony showcased the band’s internal rhythm, a flow best experienced live – an experience a pleased crowd praised with “I love you,” “Thank You,” and “You’re beautiful.”

La Havas’s sprouting confidence as a performer was commenced by Ariel Ward, 26, who has seen the British singer-songwriter twice in Washington, D.C.

“She gets better every time. I don’t know how it’s humanly possible,” Ward said.

The applause of the audience marked Lianne La Havas’s growing success, proving “it’s just gravitational, we are unstoppable” . . . at least in San Francisco.