When Obaro Ejimwe and I last stood in the same room, the scene was a small London festival, a boisterous atmosphere compelling the Mercury Award-nominated singer and producer to jump about a bit. A year later, with a new critically acclaimed album, one question came to mind: would Ghostpoet still bring it. As I stood and shivered on a cold Leeds night, I looked to see what type of person came to a Ghostpoet gig. It took me a good minute to realise that there simply wasn’t one. Clearly, Ghostpoet isn’t one for cliques, and his brand of quickly spoken poetry over complex background sounds has reached many ears.
Bristol – based support act Typesun, opened the night promisingly, with a selection of intricate dance tracks with repetitive soul melodies floating over the top. With Typesun’s set over and the audience significantly closer to the stage, I wondered which Ghostpoet would show up tonight. I soon found out. While he may create laid back, thought-provoking tracks in the studio, the stage is where Ghostpoet really comes out of his shell. He moved quickly into first song ‘Gaaasp’, foot stomping, eyes closed. The opening lyric, “Life’s too short so I’ve got to make haste,” reflected the pace and energy of the set, with ‘Gaaasp’ changing the mood of the crowd instantly. ‘Plastic Bag Brain’, with indie guitars and repetitive riffs showed the effortless versatility of Ghostpoet, and was greeted with roars of approval from the audience. Finally, it seemed, they were ready to let loose.
Further cheers were met when the next song, ‘Dialtones’, which featured nu-folk-up-and-coming star Lucy Rose on the new album ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’, wended its way from singer to listener. Hearing Ghostpoet’s words coming from another is, surprisingly, just as interesting as hearing them from himself. The biggest cheer of the night came when popular single ‘Survive It’, which appears on his first album as a song with sparse textures and light melodic choruses, blasted into life. Sometimes I would engage with the background noise, but sometimes I would just stand back and listen, mesmerised, to the constant flow of observation and wit.
By the end of the night, after an obligatory encore, Ejimwe appeared satisfied with the amount of moving to the music, apologising later for almost losing his voice. It seems then, that despite coming across as mild-mannered in his album work, Ghostpoet likes to let go a little bit. And we aren’t complaining.
By Laurence Morgan