Loyle Carner O2 Academy Liverpool Vicky Pea (5)
Loyle Carner O2 Academy Liverpool Vicky Pea (5)

Loyle Carner, Arlo Parks: O2 Academy, Liverpool

Just months following his Sound City triumph, Loyle Carner returned to Liverpool. Soulfultiz catches the master at work.

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By Shaun Ponsonby
Thu 07 November, 2019

This was an anticipated night. You could feel it in the air; mere months after his triumph at Sound City, Loyle Carner was back in Liverpool. Arriving at the venue, it occurred that I had never before seen the O2 Academy this crowded so early in the night.

We were treated to the sounds of Arlo Parks, a young artist who was the opening act of the night. If she didn’t tell you her age, it would be easy to assume that she had over 20 years of experience on stage. In fact, it was a surreal moment was when she said the first ever gig she attended when she was 15 years old was Loyle Carner, and that she had felt privileged to be opening for him.

Parks’ voice is strong and extremely soulful, but with an obvious rock influence, and one song – Super Sad Generation – stood out in particular.

But of course, there was only one man of the moment, and he burst on stage with Eyes Water, one of the stand-out cuts from his critically acclaimed LP Not Waving But Drowning.

He said that he was hyped to be back in the city, and that it was his second home, being a Liverpool supporter and all. At one point he made a joke about Mo Salah being up on stage with him. After a few boo’s from Everton supporters, he shouted, “Stop booing, we’re top of the league!”

He moved swiftly onto the Tom Misch-featuring Damselfly and Angel, with Carner jokingly encouraging the crowd to snapchat the absent Misch, and roasted him for not being there.

Between his jovial appeal, Carner’s real charm is his openness with the crowd. He shows us real heart.

One of his biggest inspirations is his mum, Jean. He said that she had wanted a daughter, and that he had wanted a sister, a situation which he wrote a song about in Dear Ben. It seems as if he pours his heart out to us between songs as much as he does in them.

But he balances this effortlessly with his sense of humour and sheer energy. Both were apparent in No Worries – a song about being skint (which I’m sure we can all relate to). When he makes a mistake – as he did in Loose Ends – he acknowledges it with a nudge and a wink; “Let’s make some noise for human error!

He is also political, turning the topic of conversation to politics and immigration, stating that most people on the planet were immigrants, and that without immigrants, there would be no NHS. But his personality is so affable, that this never feels overbearing.

By the time he closed the night with No CD (joined by his brother from another mother, Rebel Kleff) it was evident that Loyle Carner is a superstar in the making. He brought a totally different energy tonight compared to Sound City, and made this writer appreciate his latest album even more. My only regret is not picking it up on vinyl.

Photo gallery by Vicky Pea

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