6th February 2017

Although the Riverside in Newcastle could easily be dubbed as a small, grungey and intimate venue, on Sunday 5th February when Loyle Carner (real name Benjamin Coyle-Larner) strode out onto the stage, silhouetted against his family photo, the artwork for his debut album “Yesterday’s Gone”, the intimacy of the venue was taken to another level.


With his late step-father’s Eric Cantana Manchester United shirt draped around his shoulder, Carner dominated the stage with a confident presence that was perhaps unpredicted given the sensitivity of his lyrics – his poem ‘Florence’, dedicated to the daughter his mother never had, being a standout example. It was a freshness, a genuineness, that is rare to see, as Carner gives his own spin on, and combination of, the grime and hip-hop scenes. He reassured the crowd, “I am actually a happy guy”, despite the emotional lyrics.


Published one day ago, Carner’s ‘Fire in the Booth’ with Radio 1Xtra, which he performed a snippet of, has already received 25,000 views on YouTube, no surprise given his half a million-strong monthly following on Spotify. The break-through rapper from Croydon was still, in his words, “naïve” to the love his music was receiving, clearly affected by seeing a fan’s cardboard sign to him, which read ‘Loyal to Loyle’ – the first sign he had ever had. 


He began his set with ‘Isle of Arran’, before introducing himself to the crowd, and happily engaging with them, at one point bringing a girl onto stage who knew every lyric. ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ was attacked with a new level of animation, and the crowd responded accordingly; Carner performed with such confidence it was hard to beliebe this was his first headline tour. Even though his was a relatively short set, it was cleverly orchestrated to leave the audience in stunned silence. The energy of ‘NO CD’ faded into his mother’s voice, as the family members in the backdrop photograph gradually faded away, until the audience were left looking at a projection of his mother’s affectionate monologue about her son; she was quite literally the centre of Carner’s stage, sharing the journey with him.


(Riverside, Newcastle - 5th Feburary 2017)

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