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With all the confidence and poise of a seasoned pro, Loyle Carner had a packed to the rafters Liquid Room under his spell from the very minute he stepped on stage.
Sure, he’s already got an appearance at Glastonbury under his belt and has toured with the likes of MF Doom, Joey Badass and Kate Tempest, but you had to pinch yourself at times to remember this guy is just 22.
The south London rapper is, in theory, an emerging artist, but no one in attendance would have left in any doubt that bigger things, and much bigger venues than this, are in store for him.
Yesterday’s Gone, his just-released debut album, has seen him labelled as “one of hip-hop’s most affecting new voices”, and its heartfelt, hard-hitting rap songs translate perfectly to the live environment.
Perhaps predictably, singles like Isle Of Arran, Florence, NO CD and Ain’t Nothing Changed got the biggest cheers – though impressively, practically every song Loyle performed had the crowd singing every word back to him.
It would be remiss not to give a shout out to the man behind the beats, Rebel Kleff. On the few occasions he came out from behind his decks to rap alongside his best buddy, it was clear these two share a very special bond.
The verdict on Loyle Carner? On this evidence – and, of course, that of his insanely-good debut album – this young man is a superstar in waiting. And one not having to wait very long at that.
Words: Gary Flockhart