Les Nuits Botanique is one of my favourite music events in Brussels. First, because its eclectic program allows the discovery of emerging artists from a wide spectrum of genres. Second, because its atmosphere offers reassuring signs that summer is coming. Dressed in pastel colours, people gather on the stairs of the glittering greenhouse, enjoying the last rays of sunshine while sipping their sparkling drinks. Today Zao is playing in the Chapiteau, attracting a different audience from the younger hip hop fans of NiNE8. But you can tell we’re all here for the same reason, listening to some live music that will help us reconnect with the wonders of the present moment.
David Numwami puts love into his work – and work into his love
David Numwami is a Brussels-based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and beatmaker. He collaborated with artists like Flavien Berger and toured playing bass in Charlotte Gainsbourg’s band. He recently launched his solo career, and in 2021 released his debut album “Numwami World”, a work that mingles lyrics of French melancholy and English lightness on rosy pop tunes. Tonight, he’s presenting his new show for the first time at Botanique.
The show starts in a mellow orange light, mirrors reflecting its flashy tints on the carved balconies of the Grand Salon venue. On stage, David Numwami is surrounded by a flamboyant bunch of friends, who form a polyphonic chorus of three backing vocals (+ one dazzling female DJ). Singing about escaping the wintery gloom of the city with “Bruxelles-Sud” (an ironic reference to our misleadingly called airport “Brussels South”?), David seems blissful and relaxed. Throughout the concert, he moves from his extravagant electric guitar riffs to the fine tunes of his piano – all the while singing verses of love; for people, music, and life itself.
Aside from its musical quality, the show also features spectacular choreography. Listening to Numwami’s 2020 single “Le Fisc de L’Amour”, I hear someone next to me asking “how did he do that?” only to discover he is now standing on the balcony at the other end of the venue. The young artist frequently blurs the boundaries between what happens on and off stage, roaming through the crowd and joking with the audience. At one point, he even includes his videographer Louise in the performance. On stage now, and only a few centimetres away, she films David’s fingers moving on the guitar with a tiny digital camera, and contributes to the sound by flipping some buttons on the drum machine.
As the show comes to an end, David can’t help but thank all those who have supported him in his musical career. He’s so engrossed in his acknowledgments that his beloved manager must remind him that time is ticking – he should start singing again!
By sacrificing his playing time to express his loving gratitude, David has proven us that he does “love everybody” as he mentions in his bio. A rising star in the Brussels music scene, he was selected by Stromae to be the opening act of his upcoming tour, which was sadly cancelled. However, Numwami’s talent and loving kindness will no doubt lead him to receive the praise and recognition he deserves. What an inspiring show!
Setlist: Intro, Bruxelles-Sud, Numwami World, Thema, Beats!, Milky Way, Le fisc de l’amour, The Music is Forever.
NiNE8 – UK collective of creative energy
The evening continues with another tight-knit bunch of talented friends. NiNE8 are a pop/hiphop collective from south London composed of Lava La Rue, Mac Wetha, Bone Slim, Biig Piig, Nayana Iz, Nige and LorenzoRSV. All have bustling solo careers and already fill concert venues touring on their own (see Biig Piig’s live show at Botanique last March). The visionary Londoners made the decision of being radically egalitarian, systematically splitting all the profits they make as a supergroup. Today they’re here to present the release of their new album “98 Nights”, a work that combines creative lyrics with the fresh flows typical of the south London hip hop scene.
Performing their last single “Noodle Poodle”, the artists move around in a well-choreographed dance. Although they arrived in Brussels at 6AM this morning, they seem to be bursting with energy. The group does not seem to be disturbed by the absence of Lava La Rue and Nayana Iz. They’re well attuned, lip-syncing to each other’s lyrics and exchanging mics as the different members come to the fore. As DJ Mac Wetha does a little rap standing on a front speaker, you can see that these are all multi-skilled artists. The audience wave their hands while Bone Slim, wearing his signature white mask, raps on the collective’s better-known track “SHEDONTEVENKNOW”. The show’s 40 minutes go by in a blink of an eye, but it remains effective in leaving us filled with UK hip hop flows and a thriving amount of energy.
Setlist: Noodle Poodle, Spit Remix, You Will Die, Imagination, Take Off, London Outta Luck, Ignant, Check Beach, SHEDONTEVENKNOW.
It’s no secret that when music and love intertwine on stage, a performance takes up another dimension of vibrancy. David Numwami and NiNE8 gave us exactly what we needed to leave drizzly April behind and welcome sunny May with open arms.
Check out David Numwami and NiNE8 on Spotify.
Disclaimer: the setlists have been created by ear, let us know in the comments if you spot a mistake.