Earlier in the year Loyle Carner released his debut record Yesterday’s Gone. The heartfelt record is full of hope and honesty and preaches the strength of family, themes reflected in Carner’s excellent performance at Melbourne’s The Corner Hotel.
The Londoner instantly commanded the attention of the loyal (sorry) crowd by opening with his biggest hit in Australia, Isle of Arran. Supported by producer DJ Rebel Kleff (who provided beats on Yesterday’s Gone) the pair bounced off each other like the lifelong friends they are, especially in the moments Kleff performed his own verses.
For the whole set, Carner clung onto an Eric Cantona jersey slung around his shoulders like a comfort blanket. We get its story partway through the night: “This shirt was my father’s,” he tells us. “Before he passed he told me we would one day tour the world together, and now I’ve brought him all the way to Melbourne.” With every story the 22-year-old shared between songs, he dragged us, most willingly, deeper into his world.
Carner ripped through crowd favourite Florence with genuine emotion and while his words were delivered feverishly, they were never lost in the beat. The set played out at a good pace, Carner holding the room in his hands with charisma and modesty; he delivered Tierney Terrace with appropriate swagger while singalongs Ain’t Nothing Changed and NO CD were chanted back word-for-word by the capacity crowd.
Ending on Sun of Jean – a song that samples one of his father’s tracks and has a spoken verse from his mother – Carner left the stage with DJ Kleff while his mother’s words still rang out. After a few minutes he returned to the stage to thank the crowd. He didn’t have any songs left to honour the calls for an encore, so instead finished with a self-written poem. Sometimes when artists declare you’ve been the greatest crowd they’ve ever played, it rings enthusiastic but not entirely credible. But as the young rapper wiped an overwhelmed tear from his eye, nothing had ever felt more legitimate. This was a stunning performance from an artist who is just beginning his ascent.