In about 18 months since he first started to ripple around the consciousness of the masses, flawless London MC Loyle Carner has gone from playing the undercard at Manchester’s Gorilla while on tour with Kate Tempest, to topping the bill in his own right.
Not only that, he sold out the 600-capacity space – and all this comes a good few months before we will be treated to his debut album. That milestone will come early next year in the shape of a massive release via Virgin Records.
That’s certainly not to say tonight’s packed-out crowd are unfamiliar with any of Carner’s material on the night. Right from the opening chords of Aerial Pink’s ‘Baby’, which form the sample to ‘BFG’, they are in the palm of his hand.
Granted, it’s not exactly Dr. Dre’s Up in Smoke tour, but Carner raps about what he holds closest to him with nothing contrived and absolutely no filler.
The 22-year-old is as humble as they come too. It’s the final night of the tour and so the step up to bigger venues shouldn’t be too much of a shock by now, but the rapturous reaction from the crowd after tracks such as ‘Tierney Terrace’ and ‘Ain’t Nothin’ Changed’ has Carner looking genuinely taken aback.
There’s a lovely slice of spoken word for the audience tonight, too, with Carner giving some accapella sneak previews including one he worked on with his contemporary Tom Misch.
Friend and producer Rebel Kleff plays a pivotal role as always too, pummeling a truly excitable audience with a smattering of hip-hop sampling, including one freestyle that is set to Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’.
Whether as genuine or not, Carner repeatedly tells the Manchester crowd they are the best he has had all tour, and whips up a frenzy – including a few boos from Man City fans – as he gets a football chant started in preparation of ‘Cantona’.
But any tribal allegiances are put to one side for a crescendo that comes in the shape of a huge rendition of current single ‘No CD’. Afterwards, the crowd beg for more, but the simple fact is that we’ve heard everything he’s got. One thing’s for sure, however, after this showing we’ll be right back there on the front row for the album tour. Perfect hip-hop.