So far, 2017 has been all about milestones for Loyle Carner; releasing his Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album, playing a packed stage at Glastonbury and selling out a hometown show at Brixton Academy just last week. You could forgive the rapper for pausing to take it all in, but it’s not just the big landmarks he’s got his sights set on; “This guy on Twitter kept telling us to come to Notts” he laughs, receiving the first cheers from an intimate four hundred person capacity Rescue Rooms.
Just like his album, ‘Isle of Arran’, begins the set with the 60s gospel choir sample ringing through the room. Carner eases his way in with ‘Mean It In The Morning’ and ‘Seamstress’ before unleashing ‘Stars and Shards’ which cuts harder than ever before, sending lights spinning and turning the crowd rowdy. Amongst the frenzy, Carner chats to fans – one man offers him his Arsenal shirt after the rapper’s recent quest to acquire as many retro shirts as possible, but Liverpool fan Loyle turns down this offer. These intimate moments with fans and his refined storytelling ability are what makes the show. “I’ve toured everywhere but I miss my mum, I’m a mummy’s boy!” he reveals unabashedly before oozing his way into ‘Florence’, a song about the daughter his mother never had. Elsewhere the football theme continues, admitting he became a Liverpool fan to wind up his Manchester United supporting late step-father. With that, he sits down in a makeshift living room, watching football on a TV before slipping into the tribute track ‘Cantona’.
Another person close to his heart is his DJ Rebel Kleff who jumps down from his decks to spit bars on ‘No Worries’. It’s the duo at their most cutting, Carner freestyling: “I kinda need it, but I’m a Liverpool fan, I couldn’t mistreat it” about the Arsenal fan’s shirt offer earlier on, to the cheer of the crowd. With that both Carner and Kleff seize the moment to slip into a new track that sees both of them behind the mic once more, backed by a catchy Californian rap beat.
The lampshades on stage go out as the first trumpets of ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ come in, another subtle but classy move, much like Carner’s next track ‘Sun of Jean’ which he explains is made up of samples of his late step-father’s music. Where he’s previously left the stage at this point, he now returns to the shuddering riff of ‘NO CD’ as the crowd swells towards the stage for his biggest track to date. If tonight says anything, it’s how frighteningly good Carner’s live show has become and how big expectations are for album number two and beyond.
Words by Josh Shreeve. Photos by Ethan Weatherby.