4th May | Trinity
Photos: Alesha Hickmans
In the surroundings of an old renovated church, Loyle Carner preaches his very own gospel – an enlightening trip covering Carner’s intimate and personal stories of love and hope. Amongst a scattering of old school hip-hop beats and crackles of saxophone jazz samples, Loyle Carner welcomes us to his magical world of care, compassion and humanity. A heartfelt and poignant breath of fresh air in a genre that too often strikes an overtly masculine chord.
As the lights went down on Trinity Centre’s main stage and the soul-influenced sample of ‘Ice Water’ began to quietly crackle, Carner energetically bounced on stage, sporting an infamous Bayern Munich retro football shirt and a beaming smile. He was the musical embodiment of a ray of sun, bursting through the ominously dark stage lights, eager to tell highly thoughtful and harmonious stories of hope and kindness.
Touring in support of his brand-new album, Not Waving, But Drowning, which successfully went straight to number three in the charts, Carner was in understandably high spirits – particularly buoyed on by an incredibly youthful and obsessive sold-out Bristol crowd, who emphatically roared after every song, at times rendering Carner speechless and visibly moved. The crowd jostled and excitably waved to Carner’s more boisterous fast-paced tracks, particularly the likes of ‘Stars and Shards’ and ‘NO CD’ from Carner’s debut record, Yesterday’s Gone. However, it was the deeply bittersweet and sentimental songs from his latest album that tenderly glistened and stole the show.
The heart-warming and poignant ‘Dear Jean’ saw Carner blissfully perch at the front of the stage, muttering a beautifully-woven verse about his Mum. Carner’s mum, Jean, is an ever-recurring theme in his work that never fails to strike an emotional chord, with several shout-outs being made by Carner throughout the evening. It would be hard to describe Carner as anything other than an incredibly genuine guy, an artist who uses hip-hop to spell out his heartfelt feelings of empathy, family and community.
Another highlight from Carner’s graceful triumph at The Trinity Centre came from ‘Desoleil (Brilliant Corners)’, again from his latest album, Not Waving, But Drowning. The track features a gorgeous vocal chorus from Sampha, who was unfortunately unable to make a surprise appearance in Bristol. This by no means detracted from the song’s gentle and subtle outpouring of insular beauty.
Carner even took the time to openly talk the audience through his heavily diaristic lyrics and the meanings behind them. Before launching into the lyrically intense ‘Looking Back’, in which Carner speaks of his Caribbean background and his distant father who left him as a child. Carner somewhat humorously told the audience how for many years he thought of himself as rooted in Ghana instead of Guyana, due to a simple miscommunication with his distant Dad. Such personal and intimate stories only strengthened the connection and sense of honest openness between Carner and his fans, a bond that only looks to grow stronger as Carner releases more and more music.
As Carner’s unfortunately short set, only lasting an hour, came to an end, he left us with a gorgeous and stirring rendition of ‘Loose Ends’. It was a luxurious lesson in community and compassion, with Carner offering a helping hand and beaming smile in otherwise dark and turbulent times – a vision only compounded by Carner’s final leaving words – ‘fuck Brexit’.
See the video for ‘Angel’ (feat. Tom Misch) here: