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28th March 2023

Live Review: Loyle Carner stuns at BBC Radio 6 Music Festival

Loyle Carner stunningly opens the 6 Music festival, held in at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse
Live Review: Loyle Carner stuns at BBC Radio 6 Music Festival
Photo: Shirlaine Forrest @ BBC

Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner, or better known as Loyle Carner, took to the stage at BBC Radio 6 Music Festival on Friday night. Carner headlined the first night of the iconic music festival, inspired by the alternative spirit of the radio station.

Opening his hour-and-half long set, Carner started the night off strong with ‘Hate’, the opening track of his third studio album hugo. ‘Hate’ was the perfect energetic and attentive crowd opener for Carner to start with. His sheer emotions were seeping through with every lyric. This was just the start of what was to come of the night, as Carner was accompanied beautifully by a complete band consisting of a pair of guitarists, a drummer and a keyboardist.

From the opener, Loyle Carner continues with his selection of songs from hugo with ‘Plastic’, a song about putting an emphasis on things wrong. Not only was ‘Plastic’ a nice change of rhythm from the upbeat tempo of ‘Hate’ that kicked off the night, but it was also a statement song. The track was just the start of Carner’s call for action against big companies and corporations. He called out mistakes and companies lacking accountability for their actions, including the festival organisers BBC.

Carner continue to change the tempo of his songs and the pace of the crowd with ‘You Don’t Know’, a song featuring long time collaborator Rebel Kleff. The crowd were engaged and devoted to the set. Madlib produced ‘Georgetown’ was next, complete with the backing of John Agard‘s poem ‘Half-caste’, displaying the versatility of Loyle Carner, who’s able to fuse both Grammy-nominated Madlib and award-winning poet John Agard on just one track.

Continuing with an acoustic intro to ‘Desoleil’ featuring Sampha and then mixing into Erick the Architect‘s ‘Let it Go’ with FARR, Carner produced a pairing of two exceptionally heartfelt songs back-to-back for the audience to take a minute to be present. The sombre notes of the songs were soon replaced with a swift transition back to sweet reality with ‘Angel’, a song with other long term collaborator Tom Misch. ‘Angel’ was just the beginning of a number of side-by-side bangers by Carner in the middle of his set.

‘Damselfly’, ‘Yesterday’, and ‘Homerton’ soon followed, with ‘Damselfly’ becoming the best song of the set so far. Carner’s dive into his old discography of jazz rap soon came to an end, for now, as he picked hugo back up with ‘Blood On My Nikes’, a statement song. Carner invited Athian Akec onto stage to recite the speech he made in Parliament in 2018 which is featured at the end of ‘Blood On My Nikes’, as Carner’s continuous call out of corporations to do better extended to the government.

It felt hard to beat the statement of ‘Blood On My Nikes’. However, Loyle Carner told the crowd that the next song was “his favourite song that he had ever wrote”. This song was ‘Still’, a song purely about reflection and human existence, showcasing incredible vulnerability. ‘Loose Ends’ with Jorja Smith continued the set as Carner turned to spoken word at the end of the song. This smooth spoken word gathered pace and transitioned into the lyrics of ‘Ice Water’, hitting the crowd unexpectedly.

‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’ followed, and then the moment everyone had been waiting for was upon us, ‘Nobody Knows’ featuring Manchester’s AMC Gospel Choir. The song was well worth the wait; Carner rapped seamlessly over the ensemble of the AMC Gospel Choir.

As Loyle Carner’s impressive set list was coming to an end, he closed the show with ‘HGU’, a song about forgiveness and about how Carner forgave his biological father for being distant in his life; or in different terms, a song about the end of a chapter, as Carner drew his headline performance to a close.

Following a short break, Carner and his band came back out for the encore that was ‘Ottolenghi’, the first single from 2019’s Not Waving, But Drowning. The song’s soft draw to an end was partnered with Carner reciting a piece of poetry that he had written. It completed a beautiful, heartfelt and compassionate performance from the man of the moment.


Watch Loyle Carner’s set on BBC iPlayer here.


Listen to hugo here:

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