Rag ‘n’ Bone Man performing The Overproof Tour at The Civic Hall Wolverhampton on Monday 27th November 2017.

Review by Kevin Cooper

2017 has been an incredible year for Rory Graham, also known as Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. He won the Brits Critic’s Choice Award in February, the same month that his debut studio album, Human went to number one.

So it was no surprise then that the Civic Hall was completely sold out last night, with his fans eager to hear the songs that have catapulted him to the top of the charts. Striding out on to the stage, he seemed an unlikely soul man but as he opened his set with the retro soul inspired Wolves, there was no mistaking his gravelly undertones which slid smoothly into some velvety notes.

Telling the crowd that it was well documented that he writes miserable songs, he evidenced this with No Mother and Life In Her Yet, a poignant tribute to his grandmother, co-written with Rationale and taken from his 2014 release.

Throwing his baseball hat into the crowd, he soon got down to business. Album tracks like The Fire and Your Way Or The Rope showcased his deep, booming soulful voice and gritty falsetto, but if truth be told his performance risked blurring into one. It was the less expected elements like the refreshing rapping on Ego and the slow tender Odetta that broke the trance.

But it was the spine tingling, stripped back version of Skin, arguably his best song of the night that got the biggest reaction with screams, cheers and rapturous applause. The lonesome pairing of the piano and his raw vocals was simply mesmerising.

Always humble, his demeanour was subdued and subtle throughout the set but his booming voice was anything but. There was the hauntingly morbid, yet subliminal Lay My Body Down which had the crowd almost pausing in stillness to enjoy his powerful delivery.

But of course it was the album’s title track and his most famous song to date that brought the biggest crowd reaction, with him delivering a confident rendition of the number one track which saw him utilise all seven band members including a brass duo, a more up-tempo rhythm and a rap interlude which went down a storm.

By the time the encore came round it was hard to imagine what tracks hadn’t already been played. Brand new song, Don’t Set The World On Fire, performed on an acoustic guitar, was a glimpse of things to come and the first time the singer had picked up an instrument. It was followed by Bitter End and concluded with a rousing Hell Yeah.

With his huge flawless voice effortlessly flooding the room; Rag ‘n’ Bone Man was both captivating and enthralling. It is easy to imagine him playing and selling out even bigger venues in the near future and moving in the same circles as Sam Smith and Adele.