Loyle Carner performing his Hugo Tour at Rock City Nottingham on Monday 6th March 2023.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Three months after performing at The Level, hip hop star Loyle Carner burst on to the Rock City stage on Monday night and opened with new song Hate from his third studio album, Hugo.

With the sold out crowd queuing for several hours before the doors opened, expectations were high. And Carner did not disappoint as he owned the stage wearing a red jacket and was backed by a tight five piece band.

Crowd favourite You Don’t Know added to the frenetic start before he nodded to his Guyanese roots with Georgetown which sampled a poem by the afro-Guyanese playwright, John Agard. Angel and Damselfly, collaborations with his old friend Tom Misch followed as did an acoustic rap of his old classic Yesterday.

Carner was a bundle of energy and although only slight in stature, his stage presence was captivating as he paced the stage, the crowd in the palm of his hand the whole time. He slowed things down with Desoliel (Brilliant Corners) where his slick languid delivery was on full display.

There was the jazz infused Homerton which he dedicated to his young son who was born during the pandemic, whilst moments of perfection came in the form of Speed Of Plight and his latest album’s masterpiece, the gospel tinged Nobody Knows (Ladas Road).

The Jorja Smith collaboration Loose Ends and fans favourite Ain’t Nothing Changed were greeted by a sea of hands before he expressed concerns about the increase in knife crime and youth violence in the haunting Blood On My Nikes.

With his between song banter including conversations about becoming a father and his own mental health, he closed his main set with HGU, a song about love and forgiveness which went down a storm with the crowd.

Finishing the evening with the soporific rap Ottolenghi that had the crowd singing along, Carner had delivered an impassioned performance that exuded energy and positivity throughout.