Music Review: Keelie Walker – Manchester Academy, Manchester

Supporting HRVY on his UK tour, Keelie Walker’s strong vocals, infectious positivity, and engagement with the crowd make for an enjoyable performance.

4 out of 5 stars

Supporting HRVY on his 10 date UK & Ireland THIRD TIME LUCKY tour, rising pop sensation Keelie Walker makes a welcome return to the UK to perform brand new single LOVE BEAMS and a host of new music.

Entering the stage to excited cheers from the crowd, Walker begins her set with the high energy bop GIRLS NIGHT, her black and red ensemble striking against the all-white of her two backing dancers. With their well-synchronised movements seeming effortless from the start, Walker quickly gains the crowd’s approval as she continues her lively performance with INDEPENDENT.

With a heavier beat, INDEPENDENT provides the opportunity for Walker to showcase her impressive dance skills. As the choreography graduals get more technical, Walker never lets her vocals slip, her husky tones remaining consistent throughout. Seemingly relaxing into the performance, Walker begins engaging more with the crowd, maintaining the momentum by performing the routines throughout the instrumentals.

Moving onto the not yet released SHY BOY, Walker’s vocals were ever so slightly quiet and almost drowned out by the backing. The song itself is very catchy. The somewhat bouncy beat allows Walker to engage with the crowd in a more personal manner. As she moves from area to area, she is well received, captivating smaller groups within the audience with almost private moments, long enough to draw in the focus of her attention but short enough so as not to exclude the rest of the crowd.

Walker’s enthusiastic drive has the audience lapping up her energy by the time the heavy bass kicks in for SNAKE. The more precise, angular dance moves are offset with Walker’s natural ability to fill the stage, ensuring every crowd member felt involved as she flits from area to area. This does, however, result in an issue with the lighting, with Walker performing in the shadows for what should have been an otherwise excellent vocal highlight.

Walker treats the audience to an up-beat finale, ending her set with LOVE BEAMS, the melodic introduction providing a pleasing contrast to the pulsing songs performed so far. This is, by far, the most well-received song of the night, owing to its pleasant familiarity and almost interactive chorus, allowing the audience to join in and sing along even if this was their first rendition of the song.

Heading into the second chorus, the crowd are keen to get involved and need little encouragement to join in, waving along to the beat. Even at the back of the room, the audience members queuing for the bar or engaged in conversation are swept up in the mass enjoyment, turning to join the rest of the crowd.

Ending the set alone on stage, Walker thanks the audience and encourages them to engage in conversation with her on her socials, her infectious positivity coming across as genuinely keen to interact with her fans.

At just 18, Keelie Walker is a very talented musician with an impressive ability to make her performance seem personal. Seeming completely at home on stage, her friendly demeanour welcomes the audience in and makes for an enjoyable performance.

Keelie Walker performed at the Manchester Academy on 31 October 2021.