I found myself in possession of a spare ticket for Loyle Carner’s sold out show at The Wedgewood Rooms. I thought who better to share it with than our lovely followers. Our lucky winner Nicky explained to me that her husband and son already had tickets before it had sold out. She’d resigned herself to a night riding solo with just Strictly for company.
I’d planned to take a walk to the Wedgewood Rooms but as it happens I didn’t even need to, as I was offered a lift after Nicky came to collect their ticket. Well, we were going the same direction so why not?! Fortunately, Nicky and her family were really nice and not axe murderers.
I arrived at the venue to find the queue stretching from the front door all the way round passed the laundrette on Lawrence Road. There was definitely a tangible feeling excitement in the air amongst the crowd. Most of those standing in line seemed to fall within the 17-21 age bracket, making me feel slightly old. Once inside and as the venue quickly filled up I noticed a few older faces, those more experienced gig goers clearly waited for the queue to subside before coming down.
I’ll admit that I knew nothing about the support act, Elisa Imperilee and Srigala, but I was glad that I arrived early enough to see them. You could clearly make out soul, jazz and hip-hop influences within their music and I would even compare Elisa’s vocals to the incredible Erykah Badu. Their set featured tracks from their current EP titled ‘1 O’Clock Club‘ which I’d encourage you to check out over on Bandcamp.
The crowd waited, eagerly anticipating Carner taking to the stage. Eventually, the venue was cast into darkness and the man himself entered the stage. There was a hazy smoke in the air, his silhouette illuminated by a bright white light at the back of the stage. He opened with ‘The Isle of Arran’ which is also the track also opens his debut album Yesterday’s Gone. The album was nominated for the most recent Mercury Prize along with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Glass Animals, Stormzy, The xx, and eventual winner Sampha.
The stage was set out like a living room. A leather armchair situated to the left of the stage along with a booze cabinet, while a bookcase filled with records on the opposite side of the stage is used by Rebel Kleff who was on hand to provide the beats.
The next two tracks also followed the order of the album with ‘Mean It In The Morning’ and ‘+44’ coming next. Carner explained that he had been preparing for the show with a curry from The Goa on Albert Road. Had I been able to speak with him beforehand there are plenty of other restaurants I’d have directed him towards.
Carner grasps an Eric Cantona shirt throughout the show, being an ardent Liverpool fan some may wonder why. He explained that it belonged to his late stepfather who was also a musician. Growing up the pair would dream of touring the world together, so this was Carner’s touching way to make sure his stepfather was there with him on tour.
Next up was ‘Florence,’ a song about the little sister he’d always wanted. Carner’s family and experiences growing up are at the forefront of his music.
The enthusiastic crowd were waving their arms in the air along with Carner, who was busy darting around the stage as if he was trying his best to engage with every single member of the crowd. He shoots down one member of the crowd who was getting a little too rowdy.
The set closes with ‘No CD‘ and when he finishes the crowd chant his name like he’s just scored the winning goal in a cup final. Clearly touched he describes how despite performing in front of 5,000 at the famous Brixton Academy the night before “tonight was so much more f**king fun.” Despite only being on stage for just shy of an hour it was as if there was an emotional bond between him and the crowd.
Based on this performance it is only a matter of time before he becomes one of the biggest acts in the UK and internationally. When the awards season begins next year I fully expect to see the name Loyle Carner nominated for a whole host of awards. Please come back soon Loyle, we miss you already.