- Kieran Cleary
GIG REVIEW: Loyle Carner @ Liverpool, Mountford Hall
London-born and bred rapper Loyle Carner took to a sold-out Liverpool stage following the release of his widely acclaimed third album, ‘Hugo’, released in October last year.
Carner opened with ‘Hate’, the leading single and first track of his album, it only seemed right to have it as his opening number and the crowd agreed as he stomped on stage confronting his feelings of anger, fear and confusion regarding injustice in his personal life. His energy on the stage was infectious, bouncing to the front as the red lights flickered to the drumbeat.
Carner’s band were integral to his lyricism throughout and consisted of a relatively stripped back line up of just four members playing: synth, bass, guitar, drums and occasionally trombone such as in ‘Homerton’. The guitarist at one point went all out providing riffs and slides in and between line breaks within the show and the band acted as a beating heart whilst Loyle was speaking his soul.
The energy between Loyle and the audience was reciprocated, as the crowd roared the lyrics to "You Don’t Know" Carner laughed in shock replying “Liverpool, you lot are loud”. The crowd arguably made the show, and it was refreshing to see hundreds of people so engaged with live music.
Next was a piece titled ‘Georgetown’, which samples a poem by poet and playwright John Agard that acts as a nod to Carner’s roots, as if he’s inviting us to glimpse into his life almost as if the stage became his home. Loyle’s distinctive spoken word is a talent he seems to have mastered, as well as his openness,
providing a space for conversation on becoming a father, forgiveness, mental health and toxic masculinity.
One of the night's highlights was when 18-year-old Athian Akec was invited on
stage during the song ‘Blood on My Nikes’ where he recreated the speech he gave in parliament as a Labour Youth MP, this was a moment that silenced the once roaring crowd and showed that Loyle Carner can use his artistry to act as a platform for others suffering injustice.
The whole night didn’t just consist of Carner talking of course, he played some of his most-known tracks and his set list covered a wide array of his discography moving between his 2019 album ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’ and the 2017 album ‘Yesterdays Gone’. ‘Angel’ and ‘Damesfly’ were arguably crowd favourites, songs co-written and produced by friend Tom Misch, Carner asked “can you guys sing better than Tom Misch” and the crowd definitely delivered on volume.
The penultimate song was ‘HGU’, a track the rapper tells us is dedicated to his father, after finding out he was going to be a dad himself, his dad gave him driving lessons at the age of 25 wanting Carner to have the tools to give his son the best life possible and the title originates from his dad's registration plate.
After a short encore and a roaring “Loyle, Loyle, Loyle” chant, Carner returns to the stage ending with 'Ottolenghi' and the crowd at this point were practically screaming. With a 10/10 performance it became clear to everyone in that room that Loyle Carner has continued to build on his distinctive style and is destined for bigger and better things as he continues to mature and grow as an artist.