After a busy day of talks, music and sunshine, the 6 Music Festival in Glasgow was ready to kick off an evening of long-awaited performances. And what better way to get the early evening crowd going than with new kid on the block, South-London MC Loyle Carner.
A 5pm slot would be a difficult task for many more-established artists, but Carner offered his audience a gentle, soulful start to the evening’s proceedings. Aged only 21, Carner already has a string of impressive performances and collaborations to his name, including a tour with Kate Tempest and opening for Nas late last year, and is now promoting first album Yesterday’s Gone which was released in January.
Carner has previously rejected the claim that he is ‘the sentimental face of grime’, but his eloquent, intuitive and humorously self-deprecating style is a welcome alternative to the hyper-masculinity and grittiness that is associated with this scene. Rapping over easy, jazz and soul-inspired productions (provided by collaborator and friend Rebel Kleff), Carner drew in the sun-dazed Barrowlands crowd with gorgeously understated sounds and heartfelt lyrics. A particular highlight was Isle of Arran, named after the island where he spent time as a child with his Glaswegian Grandfather. Its rousing gospel sample provided an ironic backdrop to Carner’s exploration of fatherhood, religion and grief. By the time the driving bass of last year’s well-received single No CD came through, Carner had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Those who made the effort to get down early for his performance will count themselves lucky in years to come as this young talent’s star continues to rise.
Round the corner in St Luke’s, the first band of the night were Anglo-Scot offering Sacred Paws. Featuring a more extensive line-up than the usual duo of Rachel Agg (guitar) and Eilidh Rogers (drums), their punky, afropop tunes were the perfect accompaniment to a sunny evening and cold pint. Playing to a rather spartan crowd at first, by the end of their upbeat set the room had filled up and the audience were clearly enjoying the energy emanating from the band. With their honest, uncontrived vocals, there is an underlying simplicity to what Sacred Paws do – they are straight forward fun.
By this point it was time to head back to Barrowlands to catch the unmissable Songhoy Blues. Surely these guys are contenders for the title of happiest band in the world? There is absolutely no way to keep from smiling as you watch them perform – very few other acts could even hope to to maintain their level of vigour. No strangers to the city, having previously played Celtic Connections festival and SWG3, Songhoy Blues seemed to know how to get even a stoical Weegie crowd going. Despite their obvious passion for performance, there is an inherently political element to their music that cannot be forgotten. When introducing One Colour, singer Aliou Touré announced that it was called this “because our dream is to see the world together”. What their performance certainly proved is that you do not need to share a locality, language or indeed anything else with someone to appreciate their art – as Touré rightly stated “music is the universal language”.
After an hour’s wait while the stage was reset, the final, much-anticipated act of the evening graced the stage. Positioned centre-stage, backlit and surrounded by various instruments and machines, headliner Bonobo (Simon Green) looked an almost mythical figure as he wove together his signature layers of languid electronica into a complex wall of sound. Joining him were an extensive backing band, including a brass section and a particularly outstanding drummer. Green himself played bass for much of the night and altogether the musical output felt expertly crafted and controlled. Dressed in a floaty outfit that seemed befitting to her ethereal voice, Szjerdene’s vocals were a welcome addition, but in the only disappointing element in an otherwise slick set, her subtle voice was somewhat lost in the mix.
All photos by Sarah Jeynes and Alan Braidwood.