The crowded Space Theatre’s late night jazz club-like setting was the perfect venue for the R&B infused pop and jazz of Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna.
In Adelaide for the first time as part of OzAsia, Yuna is the annual festival’s trendiest headliner to date. The 26-year-old is signed to jazz label Verve, has worked with two of modern music’s finest hit makers in Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, and is on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream with her second international album due for release soon. Yuna proved she is an artist to watch closely in the coming years with an enthralling performance, which saw the Lullabies singer elegantly cover everything from jazz singer-like ballads to Alicia Keys-style R&B and acoustic pop. Yuna, who owns a fashion store in Kuala Lumpur, entered the stage donned in a colorful headscarf and full-length dress. She is a fashion icon in waiting, lighting the dark stage like an illuminated Lotus flower from the moment she walked on. Beginning with a cover of Frank Ocean’s Thinkin’ ‘Bout You, her voice enraptured the polite and appreciative crowd from the first note. Yuna’s voice is a powerful instrument, commanding and captivating even when she sings barely above a whisper. Backed by a five-piece band, the Los Angeles-based singer covered material from her entire career including tracks sung in Malay and English. Two of her most well known songs, Life Your Life and latest single I Wanna Go, were saved for near the end, but her lesser-known material was as enthralling as her ‘hits’. It will be intriguing to see where Yuna goes from here. Will she keep the R&B element? Will she embrace traditional Malay instruments? Or, since she is signed to Verve, will she cruise down the jazz standard highway? Whatever her choice, judging by her Adelaide performance, she will conquer whatever she does with style and grace. Yuna’s OzAsia performance was a remarkable set by an incredible talent. Photos: Kristy DeLaine