Loyle Carner at The Workman’s Club, 2nd February 2017
‘Yesterday’s Gone’ wasn’t out two weeks. Yet when the euphoric cries from SCI Youth Choir’s The Lord will Make a Way beamed out upon the sold-out crowd at Dublin’s Workman’s Club, they knew they were in for a treat.
Loyle Carner (real name, Benjamin Coyle-Larner) makes evocative music that encompasses in equal parts the crate-digging jazzy hip-hop of the ’90s and the unequivocal Londonness of a Young Turks release. Just don’t call him “the sensitive face of grime” or he’ll call you out on stage. Hear that The Guardian?
Carner has amassed a sizeable cult following since his 2014 EP, ‘A Little Late’ on which he laments the loss of his step-father and pledges to “make some money for his fam’”. And it’s admirable how well firstly, Cantona1 during which he pays tribute to his late stepfather and later, BFG are received.
Rebel Kleff, Carner’s DJ, occasional guest rapper and self-proclaimed “bro” is the DJ on the evening as you’d expect and lends vocals on highlights, No Worries and No CD, without putting a sequence or bar wrong. But the night’s all about Carner.
His remarkable rise may come as a surprise to some but Carner doesn’t waste a second. His energy onstage and the emotion he puts into the music is absorbing. And yet the music itself does the rest of the work for him. At 21, Carner already has a spectacular body of work and at no point does his set feel as if it’s outstayed its welcome. There is even a considerable support towards an encore when the rapper eventually departs the stage.
Carner’s set is interspersed with anecdotes explaining the stories behind his songs as well as captivating a capella bursts. And despite this it never felt fragmented. Highlights included the bouncing No CD and soulful Damselfly and No Worries. But really his whole performance was superb.
There was even a nod towards his mother, Jean Coyle-Larner who ends the shimmering album highlight, Sun of Jean with a poem celebrating her son’s life as she separated herself from the album cover (on which Carner stands proudly with his family in his back garden amidst darkness) which provided the backdrop for the show and recital of the poem.
Eric Cantona, the French maverick who played as a forward for Manchester United was his step-father’s favourite footballer and Carner carries a jersey with his name adorned on the back over his shoulder at every gig. Carner’s a Liverpool fan. That’s true love.
‘Yesterday’s Gone’ is already a contender for debut album of the year. But in a live capacity, it’s even better. If you were to fault the young emcee for anything it would be that he can at times be a tad fidgety and impatient with overly vocal revellers. But that would be being a bit pedantic. Overall, this was a brilliant performance and one can only expect him to progress to a higher stage next time around.