Inside Loyle Carner’s Sold Out Eventim Apollo Show – ‘hugo’ Tour
28 Mar 2023
Loyle Carner is without a doubt one of the most influential British artists to arise at the forefront of the UK industry in recent time. Hailing from South London, the 28 year old rapper has had a meteoric rise to the top over the past five years, with Mercury and BRIT nominations to his name alongside NME awards, as well as appearances in global brand campaigns – not to mention his two incredible studio albums ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ and ‘Not Waving But Drowning’ which were released in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Back in October, after virtually a three year hiatus from solo music, Loyle Carner unveiled his brand new album ‘hugo’ – taking the form of a ten track project which weighed in at just under 35 minutes of pure excellence. The last month and a half has seen the London born talent touring his brand new album in Europe and the UK; dates that all sold out rapidly, with the demand speaking for itself in terms of admiration and fanbase growth.
Just over a week ago, Loyle rounded up his tour of the UK with two shows in London at the Eventim Apollo and Wembley Ovo Arena, and here at Mixtape Madness, we had the privilege of attending the first of the two shows, and have had just over a week to digest and reflect on the performance. Here’s what went down inside…
Being the original date for London, the Eventim Apollo sold out in a matter of seconds, forcing Carner into adding an extra show at Wembley due to popular demand. The iconic venue situated in Hammersmith, London, crowds gathered early with some having queued outside for hours in a bid to locate themselves closest to the front of the stage; the atmosphere was tangible with a collective sense of excitement parading around the entrance doors, and many had also turned up to catch the support slot gem in Wesley Joseph, who himself produced an amazing set, truly selling his talent to a switched on and attentive crowd.
Shortly past 9pm, the lights went down and Loyle Carner took to the stage with his band, met by a roaring sold out crowd charged up for the night. With a track list formed by tracks from both ‘hugo’. ‘Not Waving, But Drowning’ and ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ – the audience were in for a treat to almost the best of Loyle from over the past five years. Opening up with the first single dropped from ‘hugo’ in ‘Hate’, the drum crashes and the ringed vocal sample filled the room and began captivating a willing audience.
Included amongst the set list were popular more commercialised tracks such as ‘Angel’, ‘Damselfly’ and ‘Yesterday’, as well as more mellow and lyrical tracks such as ‘Still’, ‘Speed of Plight’ and ‘Polyfilla’. Throughout the set, Loyle took various breaks between tracks to connect and talk to the crowd, exploring and talking on issues such as family relationships, mens mental health, race and love. Not only were the audience treated to an incredible setlist, but were also treated to a ‘wake-up call’ as such, a meaning and motivation to be better, supported by affirmation and repetition of the words “take these words and move forwards, move forwards, move forwards…”
As said in our album review for ‘hugo’ last year, “the small level of features allows us to dissect Carner’s solo music at face value – without the need for any distracting high profile features that may take away a marginal amount of authenticity from the project”. The artist did in fact bring out a couple of special guests in the form of Knucks, who performed ‘Standout’, Erick The Architect for ‘Let It Go’ as well as friend and political activist Athian Akec, who took to the stage for the ending of ‘Blood On My Nikes’. Allowing extra time to credit Athian Akec after his speech, the fusion between political issues and music is symphonized perfectly, as well as the discussion of racism throughout Loyle Carner’s music.
There are a few things that separate a rapper from an artist in my opinion, those things being musicality, longevity and substance – all of which fits the discourse for Loyle to fall into the latter bracket. When I saw Carner many years ago for the first time, there was no band, just a man, a microphone and something powerful to say. The upgrade to a live band has taken the musicality to a different level, and in turn gives the lyrical value of the music way more longevity. In front of our eyes, we have seen someone truly blossom into their full potential, and this was reflective at the Eventim Apollo. At moments throughout the night, where Loyle was talking, it almost felt like he received his ‘I made it’ moment at points throughout the night, with the crowd erupting in few-minute applauses multiple times, singing each track word for word. There was so much love in the air; people that had audibly vocalised that the rapper had saved them through his music, some who have made great memories, some bad, but collectively an audience that all share one thing in common – the connection with Loyle and his art.
It’s safe to say that over the past couple of years, the meteoric rise of Loyle Carner has been undeniable. He seems to have developed a somewhat devoted fanbase, and has allowed himself through his pure representation to be seen as one of the nicest people within the music industry, often seen giving back to not only his fans but also his local community. Music with substance always stands the test of time – and this album, as well as all of his previous discography has it all, and in turn allowed the rapper to perform the most incredible set. Loyle Carner is a voice for many; the voice for those who may struggle to have one otherwise.