Last Sunday, on behalf of URB and BathTime, I was lucky enough to attend Loyle Carner’s sold-out show at the O2 Academy in Bristol. Touring his third album, ‘hugo’, every single date had sold out months prior. From the moment I entered the venue, his popularity was evidently clear. The place was packed with hundreds of eagerly awaiting, adoring fans.
Starting off with two songs from his new album, ‘Hate’ and ‘Plastic’, the audience sang along word for word. Following this was a mix of songs from both ‘hugo’ and his second album ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’. On top of this, and to the delight of the crowd, the set list included some songs which had been produced jointly with other artists. Together, Loyle Carner and his fans performed ‘Angel’ in homage to collaborator Tom Misch which followed Erick the Architect’s ‘Let It Go’. A special mention goes out to his touching performance of ‘Loose Ends’, which used a backing track to bring to life the vocals of the one and only Jorja Smith.
Throughout the night, Loyle Carner made an effort to confide in his audience, explaining the importance of certain songs to him. Before singing ‘Hometown’, Loyle Carner spoke heartfeltly about his young son and how greatly he misses him on nights like this, when travelling on tour. He honoured him well with his striking performance. He spoke of how becoming a father has been a positive challenge and discussed the influence this had made to his music.
Importantly, Loyle Carner is one for using his platform to speak out against the injustices he sees in society. ‘Blood On My Nikes’ features a segment of a speech from youth activist Athian Akec which touched on the prevalence and cruelty of knife crime…
“The impact of knife crime on individuals is undeniable
And while politicians wish to police their way
Out of the knife crime epidemic, it is simply not possible
We must focus on the root causes of knife crime
Poverty, inequality, austerity and a lack of opportunity
We must petition the government to put reason over rhetoric
Compassion over indifference, equality over austerity
As knife crime claims more lives within our country
Never has so much been lost by so many
Because of the indecision of so few”
Loyle continued. He exclaimed “F*** Boris, F*** Rishi and most importantly F*** the Tories”, a sentiment clearly supported by a crowd who cheered in solidarity.
Finally, when the time came for the crowd to filter out of the venue, it was abundantly clear that Loyle Carner had connected with each and every person who had taken the time to come out and watch his show. Loyle Carner now continues his tour with his final two dates in London as well as a plethora of festivals over the summer months. I personally look forward to seeing him again at Sziget festival this August!