“When you search my name online, three things come up,” Birmingham musician Stealth tells the crowd, “The first thing is a nightclub in Nottingham: that’s not me. The second is a drum and bass DJ: that’s definitely not me. Then there’s me: I’m the third thing.”
If you have heard of this third Stealth before then it might be because he has already lent his vocals to some dance tracks. Most recently he has collaborated with Nitin Sawhney (When I’m Gone) and Roger Sanchez (Remember Me).Stealth’s solo material is more traditional; grounded in rhythm and blues. Initially he might seem like quite a strange choice of support for a pop band like Vaults. The difference in stage set ups alone is pronounced. Whilst Vaults make use of an array of different synths and intricate looking percussion instruments, Stealth is backed only by drums, bass and guitars.
One thing the two acts do have in common is exceptional vocal talent. Vaults frontwoman Blythe Pepino’s voice is the biggest thing in the room; it is soaring and captivating and, paired with the band’s atmospheric electronics, sounds almost ethereal. Stealth’s vocal is just as resonating. He sounds like Hozier with added gravitas: sombre and soulful and far beyond his years.
Tonight’s set mainly showcases his recently released EP, Intro. Whilst all three songs impress, new single Judgement Day stands out from the rest. The video, premiered by The Independent last week, is set in a cavernous church. It is the sort of place you can imagine Stealth’s music really thriving. Though this is the only record that touches upon religion, his overall sound shares qualities with gospel music. Most significantly, it has the power to affect and, whether physical – through handclaps and foot stomps – or just emotional, it commands a response. It is to his credit that he looks just as at home in a small basement venue.
With such perfect vocal delivery, it might be easy to write Stealth off as being too sleek or contrived but, watching him perform, it is clear he believes in his music. This is most obvious when he puts down his guitar during tracks like slow-burner You Won’t See Me Cry; his closed eyes and impassioned hand gestures suggest he is fully devoted to the music he is creating. Tonight’s crowd is small and an attempt at encouraging participation isn’t very successful but, with a voice like that, it probably won’t be long before Stealth tops his Google search results.
Words by Gemma Barnes