By Sarah Lane
Loyle Carner’s second sold out show at Manchester’s Band On The Wall last week was cathartic. It was a joy. It was testament to the healing power of music. His uncensored emotional range is full of passion, full of fire and full of heart. Pure unfiltered soul energy pulsing through, it escapes him, he shares it, it is boundless.
The catharsis of Loyle Carner’s performance goes both ways. Music can heal. More genuinely himself than most who grace a stage, Loyle is unapologetically, unreservedly, Loyle. He is grateful, he is considerate, he is honest, he brims with joy and the overflow is sweet to share. He is also funny, he is direct and he forms instant connections. He greets us with “Fuck Barcelona” and is met by a room full of boos. On side, we went forth into a gig of two halves. The great half, and the even greater half. Not everyone in the crowd was a football fan.
This man radiates love. He is a human giving. Love, passion, insight, he has a direct line to the source. All the love he’s gives out and he’s getting it back multiplied. More than once he was visibly overwhelmed by the love from the crowd. He was clearly enjoying the crowd and enjoying sharing the stage and enjoying sharing his new album Not waving but drowning. “I don’t know if anyone knows but I’ve got a new album out. I’d really appreciate it if you bought it. You know how everyone says how difficult the second album is? Well it really fucking is!”
If there’s one thing to take away from a Loyle Carner gig, it’s the genuine connection he builds with the audience. He is not performing, he is connecting, giving. Arms open wide as he sings, everyone on and off stage clap along. The crowd are poised to shout along at “For fuck’s sake!”
Then there’s the stories. When he’s not telling stories through song, he’s telling stories inbetween songs. When it’s time for Ottolenghi, “He’s my bro now, he’s my bro. I’m gonna tell you just one more story. I was making a turkey on Christmas eve and the recipe said preserved lemon and butter and thyme ‘n’ shit and I didn’t have any preserved lemon so I messaged him and I asked him whether I can just use normal lemon instead and he insisted I couldn’t and he couriered some to my house on Christmas eve!” The joy in telling this to us was real and true and very sweet.
Loyle Carner could win the prize for most considerate performer to grace a stage. All the stories he told, he’d start each one by asking us if it was okay if he told us a story, asking “Is it okay if I…” and “Is it cool if I…” And he was grateful too, thanking us for sticking around. It was their second show of the night, kicking off late around ten and he thanked us for sticking around for the late show. And he thanked us for sticking around while he had a year out, “I’ve been gone for a year, most of the time people would move on to the next thing so thank you for sticking around. A lot has changed in that year! I’ve fallen in love, got a house, got a dog, grown up a lot.”