Loyle Carner @ Leeds University Union

Loyle Carner has something special. This was evident from his first outings in Leeds, at Headrow House and Belgrave respectively, but even more so now, with this gig having to be upgraded from the latter to Stylus. For one night only, Carner brought his rhyming capabilities to the VK soaked floors of the student union.

After the mesmerising Brixton duo Elisa & Srigala brought their warm-up to a close, the crowd swelled in anticipation of Carner, packing the dancefloor and balconies, raising the room temperature to almost uncomfortable levels. Rebel Kleff was first on stage, the first rotations of ‘Isle of Arran’ creating a swell of bubbling energy. Carner then joined him, roaring through his opener, finishing the track to chants of ‘Leeds, Leeds, Leeds’ which he dutifully replicated.

Rebel Kleff

Ever the showman, he passed a bottle of whisky into the audience, requesting that everyone took a sip and passed it around. This playfulness exudes from Carner, who dove straight into a performance of ‘No Worries’ before surging into a freestyle off of the back of it, which paired his name with the rhyme ‘face kind of yellow look a bit like a banana’. Perhaps not his most intricate wordplay, but delivered in an infectiously upbeat style nonetheless.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Carner performed tracks such as ‘BFG’, a tribute to his late step-father, which ends with the refrain ‘Everybody says I’m fucking sad, of course I’m fucking sad, I miss my fucking dad’. A touching moment which was met with an ovation. Carner is not your run of the mill hip-hop performer. His performances are perforated with freestyles, his stage strewn with props to represent his family home, his music as much indebted to his mum as his producer, Rebel Kleff. For Carner, you can see how much this entire experience means to him, and how grateful he is for those who helped him get to this stage. As the backing track of ‘Sun of Jean’ closes, his mother’s poem rings around the hall, which ends with a line which effortlessly sums up exact what Carner has done, and can do, ‘the world is his, that scribble of a boy’.

Words by Reece Parker