Live Review

Ghostpoet, Gorilla, Manchester

Here stands a hero with optimism to pull through any band of the disenchanted.

Photo: Leah Henson
While many bands have written songs for the ‘common man’, Obaro Ejimiwe, or the man more commonly known as Ghostpoet, is writing songs for that guy’s altogether more normal and unremarkable friend. Concerns as mundane as wondering why your dinner isn’t as good as usual or why your girlfriend seems to be going off you are vocalised artfully and spun into enchanting and intimate tales.

After entering with the polite introduction of ‘Gaaaasp’, Ghostpoet showcases two distinct sides to his personality that will resonate throughout this performance. The introverted performer charmingly offers the crowd the encouragement that they can “see how it goes”, while the perfectionist in him requests the stage lighting be switched from blue to red. It’s that dedication and attention to detail that saw him nominated for a Mercury Prize that many in the room would argue he richly deserved to win. Striding into irresistible form through the setlist he delivers four new tracks in a row, taken from recent second album ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’ from ‘Them Waters’ aching with anxiety to the strange bouncing guitar lines of ‘Plastic Bag Brain’.

Ghostpoet is happy to concede some of the limelight as his female keyboardist lends her voice to the sweetly paranoid ‘Dial Tones’. Throughout the female vocal is used exquisitely, adding depth to the tracks beyond the trademark semi-spoken delivery of the frontman. They combine most effectively for the crowd pleasing ‘Survive It’ and midway through the set it is obvious to anyone present that each song becomes a mini-fable and Ghostpoet’s sheer skill on the electronic board of tricks in front of him can quickly turn the most sedate drawl into an echoing bout of experimentalism. The venue situated in the gap underneath a railway bridge ebbs and flows with his words, as a crowd with an unusual diversity for any gig united in the face of a common enemy – the weariness of everyday life. But here stands a hero with optimism to pull through any band of the disenchanted and as he returns to encore with ‘Finished I Ain’t’ they stand as much empowered as they are grateful.

By the time the set reaches its conclusion everyone can consider themselves a little wiser and more hopeful as Ghostpoet delivers a truly uplifting sermon from the depths of a dreary world constructed around him. Through the entranced swaying to the bouncing ecstasy of some of the more beat-heavy tracks on display, Ghostpoet makes good the claim “I don’t play gigs, I play parties”. The beauty is whether anyone in attendance leaves taking it as a party or a gig or just a cathartic self-help session, there’s no doubt it couldn’t have been delivered better.

Tags: Features

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