Loyle Carner @ The Caves, Edinburgh, 28 Apr
It's clear from tonight's performance that Loyle Carner has the presence and intelligence for big things, and he won’t forget his mum when they arrive
Playing a venue called The Caves brings a new meaning to the phrase underground hip-hop, but Lambeth’s Benjamin Coyle-Larner, better known by his spooneristic stage name Loyle Carner, is already a breakout star, picking up a Mercury nomination for his debut record Yesterday’s Gone.
Now he’s packed out a sweltering Edinburgh cellar for one of the first shows in support of his new record Not Waving, But Drowning, a softly spoken but lyrically impressive tour through questions of identity, mental health and the minutiae of everyday life. On record his beats rely on piano and crate digging for samples but live they’re given a boost with wall-shaking bass, as Carner leaps across the stage with his arms in the air and a towel around his neck.
Many of the strongest tracks on the new record come with an impressive array of guest stars including Sampha’s heartbreaking Desoleil (Brilliant Corners) and Tom Misch’s ever so smooth Angel. Live it’s left to the audience to carry the day – in our star’s own words he’s "not much of a singer" – but despite the record being little more than a week old the crowd sing along in good voice.
With shout outs to his mum on Dear Jean and a tribute to the unborn sister he always wanted on Florence, Carner makes an idiosyncratic hip-hop star but he’s also capable of brilliantly sharp observations, telling the tale of when, as a young kid, he confused his father’s birth country Guyana with Ghana on the pinsharp Looking Back.
Closing with the pipes in voice of Jorja Smith for Loose Ends, it’s clear Loyle Carner has the presence and intelligence for big things, and he won’t forget his mum when they arrive.