Benjamin Coyle-Larner, otherwise known as Loyle Carner, had his debut performance at Rock city and Nottingham as part of his Hugo tour on 6th March 2023. From sentimental and personal letters to his father, to groovy collabs with Tom Misch, Loyle invited us to explore his upbringing and modern society through his lyrics and artform. Impact’s Lottie Murray reviews.
The flashing of the screens at either side of the stage suddenly turns to darkness and the gentle piano sample and the occasional sound of crashing drums featuring in the intro to Hate, begins to play. Carner, who is concealed by a bright orange nylon jacket, is greeted by the wallow of the entire crowd, cheering from every corner of the floor which merges into one. Hate is the perfect song to demonstrate what is to come in the set: Carner’s sense of personal accountability, philosophical discovery, and political discussion which are all combined with unmatched vocal and instrumental partnership.
He is unequivocally himself and his music represents discussions which are momentarily pushed to the backburner
Perhaps the most predominant part of Carner’s entire set was his performance of Blood on my Nikes in which he proud fully welcomed young labour MP, and feature on this track, Athian Akec to deliver an incredibly powerful speech about knife crime and the stereotypes surrounding the use of knifes, in London specifically. It was very emotional just how much Carner completely admires Akec. Carner’s gratitude for his bravery seeps through the performance of this track and a conversation he has with the audience at the end of blood on my Nikes: “This young man [Athian Akec] was 16 years old and he was in the houses of parliament and he got the chance to speak for one minute and he chose to speak beautiful, poetically, creatively, and generously about knife crime and about how people who look like me and who look like him are losing their lives right, better than any tory ever will.”
His connection with his fans was beautiful and he made a really, genuine effort to communicate with us
Loyle Carner unashamedly applies personal, and sometimes political meaning to his lyrics which incredibly positively sets him apart from many other artists. He is unequivocally himself and his music represents discussions which are momentarily pushed to the backburner. He calls out systematic issues and makes his music truly worth something. It was excellent that Atkin Akec was given a safe, inclusive space with ordinary people to speak on behalf of ordinary, underrepresented people.
After Carner’s spectacular set had finished the crowd began to chant to see if they could entice the rapper to give them one more song. Their pleas were met when Carner returned to the stage to perform Ottolenghi. The song is named after Yotam Ottolenghi, a world-famous chef, and the song references Carner’s love of cooking. After finishing, the crowd met Carner with the same unabashed enthusiasm they had been giving the rapper all night and he finally left the stage with a huge smile on his face.
Overall, Loyle Carner’s set at rock city was everything I wanted it to be. His connection with his fans was beautiful and he made a really, genuine effort to communicate with us and let us in to his life that little bit more.
He is such an important figure in the music industry because he is authentically himself in doing so he teaches some of his younger, more impressionable fans everything he has learnt a boy growing up in Corydon. This characteristic of Carner was completely reflected in his performance and for me, inadvertently sets him apart.
Loyle Carner is without a doubt what both the rap scene, and rock city have been missing.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
In-article images courtesy of @loylecarner via Instagram.com. No changes were made to these images.
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