ReviewedFriday September 13
Oscar Key Sung got the groove going with pulsing beats and soulful atmospheric cooing reminiscent of The Weeknd meeting up with James Blake. He built up fragile musical monuments on stage with deceptively simple layers of vocal loops, reverb and delay.
London wordsmith Ghostpoet, AKA Obaro Ejimiwe, took the stage with a toothy grin. His second album Some Say I So I Say Light is a more polished, expansive affair, and the live show reflected this, with his three-person band including Clare Uchima on keys, bringing “more tune, more bass, more of everything”.
On record, Ghostpoet’s subtle, layered loops and beats allow his thoughtful observations to take centre stage. In action the thoughts were still there, but they were muddled (in a good way) with the musical elements as the band played with new arrangements, keeping things interesting. ‘Gaaasp’ and a whirring, skittery rendition of single ‘Meltdown’ got the crowd moving – but just to confirm, the ringmaster, clad in a simple black button-down and his trademark thick-rimmed glasses, asked, “Are you having a good time?” With the response an emphatic “Yes!”, he countered, “I just have to check!”
Uchima lent her gorgeous vocals to ‘Dial Tones’, which floated above Ghostpoet’s mournful musings: “The taste in my mouth now / Bitter like old tea … Opened up a jam jar / Of past pain narratives”. New single ‘Cold Win’ was also a highlight, along with the swirling ‘Liiines’ from his debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, all choppy echoes and electric strums, led to the end of the set, with the earnest rapper thanking the appreciative crowd before launching into the sparse yet heavy ‘Comatose’. The band returned to the stage for an encore, before letting the deep bass rhythms of ‘Us Against Whatever Ever’ rise to crescendo with the looped vocals to play things out.
Ghostpoet may be concerned with the intimate details of everyday minutiae, but he also knows how to overlay them with seriously groove-friendly beats.