Understanding the unique blend of music that Obaro Ejimiwe, otherwise known as Ghostpoet, creates is often difficult. Sometimes grimy, usually dreamy, often melancholy and always, always achingly cool. Straight away, in the packed, darkened room at the top of the Deaf Institute, he proves it.
For the first timers in the sweaty crowd, it’s easy to be unsure of what to expect. Peanut Butter and Melancholy Blues and Some Say I So I Say Light are both albums that feature an understated quality which works wonderfully when listened to through headphones, on the bus, or to generally make mundane daily activities more exciting. Although it is this style that has made Ghostpoet’s music so successful in the last year or so, it creates a doubt about whether his live performance is going to be quite as riveting.
Reassurance arrives in the form of Ghostpoet strolling to the stage in a black hood, flanked by a small band, and kicking off the drama in seconds as he launches into a catalogue of songs from both of his albums. Shadows and red and blue lights flare up against the walls as the movements of the crowd slowly evolve from approving nods to full on dancing, right at the turning point that is the quirky beat of ‘Plastic Bag Brain’.
His music doesn’t only translate well, but is completely transformed into a mesmerising live performance, with signature echoing vocals and the ethereal choruses of ‘Survive It’ and ‘Meltdown’ provided by backing singer Clare Uchima. The chilled-out lament that is ‘Meltdown’ has a tender quality that would be particularly difficult to capture live, so it’s given a complete makeover- the keyboard gets turned down and the drum beats and emotion get turned up. The energetic atmosphere is infectious as once again, Ghostpoet smashes every expectation.