I haven't reviewed a music event before. My comfort zone is generally with fringe theatre productions but I am a huge fan of Loyle Carner and when I found out he was playing in Brighton I had to go.
Simply put, Carner is a poet. His control of words is mesmeric and to watch him rap his jazz inspired songs about, his Mum, his childhood, his friends, his race, is very very special. I love Loyle, his words as a young man, unafraid to confront worries about love, life, family, money, and mental health, with the lyricism that he accomplishes is not only relatable but inspiring. To a writer, to an instrumentalist, to a rapper, to an artist, to you, to me, he is inspiring. Young, visceral, political, exceptionally talented. His words crept up on me, his similes and narratives painting vivid images in my brain.
Live, his control of the room is to be applauded. He is such a fucking nice guy. Humble, down to earth, funny. Everyone in the room is having a beautiful time and it is all down to the expert stage presence of Carner. He even brings a little lad from the audience onto the stage to rap alongside his idol. He's one of those people you want to catch for a pint after a show. Carner has done important work as an advocate for mental health with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) and recently launched an urban greening campaign in Thornton Heath, transforming the Ambassador House forecourt into a green community space for residents to enjoy. He is a sound guy, and the sound that this guy makes is exceptional.
His set list was a combination of songs from his newest release, Not Waving But Drowning, and a few of his previous hits. The highlight for me was when the NME award winning artist took a seat in a leather armchair, dimming the stage lights but glowing from a living room lamp placed on his side, and performed Dear Jean. It is the opening track on his new album, a touching song addressed to his Mum about falling in love and moving out the house, but never moving out of touch. The moment was especially poignant as we could see his Mum's reaction, leaning over the top balcony beaming with pride as she listened to her son perform, not just for his adoring audience, but for her too.
He ended the night with an upbeat performance of NO CD, one off his last album about his OCD, with his best friend and fellow rapper Rebel Kleff. The two of them had the whole crowd bouncing and singing Loyle's name, a spectacular night to remember for everyone involved. When Loyle left the stage for the final time and the lights came up, many of us stayed behind to cheer Jean, the woman who raised Carner, and she cheered us back.
Also should mention his support act Arlo Parks, keep an eye out for her, her blend of whimsical guitar backing and confessional lyrics are a treat. Trust me when I say she's going to be big.
Loyle is midway through a UK and European tour. I'd tell everyone in the UK to grab tickets, if there were any left. He's got a few left in Europe and you can grab them here -