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8th November 2016

Live: George the Poet

Rapper, spoken word artist and political activist George the Poet displays his skill with words in a charming performance

23rd October at Band on the Wall


As we walk into Band on the Wall the atmosphere is relaxed, people mill about with their drinks and there’s no great feeling of anticipation of the act to come. This isn’t surprising. The London born rapper-poet performing tonight has only one EP and a number of singles available to listen to. And, given the variety of style and subject of his available music, it’s safe to say the punters here tonight don’t know what to expect from George the Poet.

The lights dim and the crowd turns its attention to the stage. Accompanying band, The Composers, take their place in front of drums, keys, and bass and begin to play a building jazzy backing. George Mpanga’s voice comes through from offstage, setting the scene for the show. As the music builds he walks onstage smart and smiling and the night begins. Opening with brand new track ‘Wake Up’ George the Poet’s careful and considered delivery is enthralling. He appears to speak directly to the crowd and it is hard to turn away for a moment.

Despite playing some previously released tracks, the show focused on following a narrative rather than performing hits. The result of using this format was an interesting and engaging spectacle. George confidently weaved between songs and poems tackling different issues from Brexit, through unplanned pregnancy to climate change, directing his listeners to take action through a variety of social activism organisations. The gaps between songs were hardly identifiable as Mpanga talked to the audience with such flow and rhyme that it could have been meticulously rehearsed.

Musically, The Composers and George the Poet complimented each other well, each giving the other space to exhibit their respective huge amounts of talent. The instrumental hip-hop and jazz was the perfect backdrop for Mpanga’s casual but melodic spoken word. As George the Poet jumped from topic to topic, transitioning between them with ease and charm, it’s not hard to see why he’s being billed as one of the best upcoming political spoken word artists around.

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