Performance Date: 23/08/2017
Performance Venue: The Social London
Who It Was For: BritzNBeatz
The below account of the night of the 23rd when I was lucky enough to be asked to go and see Aleem perform live was for BritzNBeatz and you can find it here: —–> Aleem at The Social
“Strolling around Fitzrovia one Summer’s night I finally located The Social so I could go to a well-awaited gig. Headlined by Lianne Kay, Aleem was performing and I was lucky enough to be on the guest list to see him.
Greeted by a gritty mirrored hallway with neon cocktail and pineapple signs, I felt like I had fallen into Club Tropicana. Heading down the dimly lit stairs into the venue where Aleem was due to play we were suddenly hit by darkness and single lightbulbs dangling from the ceiling. The room was buzzing with fans, photographers and journalists and there was a real sense of underground artistry.
A small intimate stage was placed in the corner and the mics were already set up for Aleem who was due on at any moment. As we awaited his performance, we went upstairs to a beautiful little bar decorated with wooden walls and laced with white bunting and fairy lights. So romantic and vintage-looking and such a lovely atmosphere for the performance to take place.
Aleem was the most heart-warming, gentle guy, giving off such a genuine vibe of excitement and very appreciative of all the support from everyone that had shown up to watch him play. After chatting over a drink, it was time for Aleem to go on.
Dressed super casually, Aleem and his acoustic partner Austin perched on their stools and thanked everyone for coming before beginning their first song; “Didn’t Even Try”. The song was a lovely smoky opener to the gig and everyone was smiling as they listened to him play the guitar. Next up was Aleem’s song “Find Out”. This is one of four singles dropped on his EP “Open Letters” that was a great hit and eventually lead to Aleem supporting Fifth Harmony on their tour last year. He sang it beautifully and I even managed to sing along a little of the way!
Next up was an amazing cover of The Script’s well-known hit “Breakeven” which Aleem sang with such feeling that you almost forgot its original form. It was so lovely to have Austin there too since his voice compliments Aleem’s and he is so talented himself. In conversation, Aleem told me that they always tend to travel together since he feels that acoustic music with two people always sounds much better and I can certainly confirm that they are great together. The chemistry and comradery between the two lads was so lovely to see, there was almost a bromance on stage that you couldn’t help but laugh at!
As Aleem finished up the song he shared a little personal anecdote with us about his time in London. “I love London, you know it’s absolutely magical, you wouldn’t believe how lucky you are to be able to live here. The next song I want to sing is very special to me, as a practising Muslim I am very proud of who I am and what I believe in. When I was 19 trying to get into the industry people were very scared for me, I even wanted to kind of change myself to fit an ideal, but as a growing artist, I knew in the end that I didn’t want to. This song is called ‘Underneath’.”
The performance of “Underneath” to me was the most special of the evening. It had such a raw emotion to it and I think the subject of the song about being true to yourself and not changing for anyone is very poignant in the music industry, there is so much pressure to change and this is something that I am so proud of Aleem for not doing. Especially in the world that we live in now where the Muslim culture/religion is so under attack. When I met him after the show I expressed this opinion to him and it was so clear that he was thankful for what I said and that people’s support at his shows and of the artistry that he does means a lot to him. He truly enjoys the presence of fans and other members of the public at his shows.
As “Underneath” came to an end, the small underground room roared with cheer and long applause as everyone united in support for Aleem. It was a truly beautiful song.
Once again Aleem and Austin shared a short story with us, a comedic one about Austin and his tendency to call himself Shark Attack! Especially when messaging someone. Aleem told us that when he first received a text message from Austin it simply said “SHARK ATTACK” and he was so confused yet it is just what Austin does! After a joke about how Austin probably shouldn’t use it for a pickup line, we moved onto our next track.
Aleem told us “I wrote this song with my songwriter at two in the morning. I had been up since nine and had been trying to write and this song just came to me. This was the first song to get me to my one million streams on Spotify. It’s called “Inside Out.”
The acoustic set of Aleem’s London-set single was extremely moving and really spoke to everyone in the room. The song showcased his voice to the best of its ability and proved exactly what talent he has and what an incredible stage presence he exudes.
To close, Aleem sung his last acoustic of the night which he said was a new song due for release called “Stranger Things”. Once again a flawless performance filled with feeling and husky vocals from both lads.
I managed to grab a quick interview with Aleem after the show before he had to dash off:
That was honestly such a lovely and beautiful show! Well done!
Thank you so much!
No, I loved it. I especially found it so amazing that you overcame all the grief that you received about your religion and the song “Underneath” was amazing. It must have been so hard for you.
No it is amazing but in this industry, you can’t change for anyone and I want to be myself and be proud of my religion.
So you should be! Why did you start writing? Because it’s such a hard thing to do, even more so than books in my opinion.
Is it just wanting to be different you know? No one else can say what you have to say and that is why I want to write. So I can give my story. You are unique, and so would your story be, that is why I write music, to tell a message.
What would you say your big break was?
Definitely Fifth Harmony, they’re such great girls and we had such a great time supporting them, it had to be that.
Ah, so they’re super lovely, are they?
Oh yeah, such nice girls, honestly they’re so nice and it was such an honour to be able to work with them.
I managed to grab Austin briefly to tell him how great the show was and he too was so appreciative of the kind comments and was super genuine with every gratuitous reaction he had. They had to jet off as soon as our conversation ended to head to the airport since they had a flight to Nashville the next day, but I was happy with everything we got to see regardless.
It is worth mentioning the amazing other acts we saw that night including Nyna and Lianne Kay. Aleem is a hot new artist and he will definitely be taking the industry by storm soon enough. Keep a watchful eye on this one!”
Aleem did an amazing performance this year with the ever upcoming Fifth Harmony and it really is worth checking out his work. He is an amazing artist!