- James Canty
This evening The Kazimier seems very excited. Doors having just opened, there are plenty of people in the venue’s main space sipping beer and talking in hushed whispers. Something exciting is about to happen.
The first artist of the evening is JAMES CANTY, whose guitar-driven solo musings provide foot tapping and head nodding across the board. The audience are appreciative and as the venue fills up the set comes to a close. After Canty, we have PALACES, who fill the room with reverb-heavy music that inflates the crowd like air in balloons. They glide slickly through a set full of lovely moments and brilliant ambiances, and set the tone wonderfully for an evening of musical delights. Palaces are a band with an exciting future.
After a short break there is darkness…voices howl and scream as a figure appears on stage. The figure is Obaro Ejimiwe aka GHOSTPOET, the man of the moment. What is initially striking about Ejimiwe is his stature: he is a big man and he commands the stage with a melodic brutality that is very exciting to watch. Without a moment for breath, Ghostpoet storms through the first couple of tracks from his new album Shedding Skin. At first his vocals are lost under a soundscape of guitar keyboards and bass but luckily this is quickly fixed and his soft, croaky, southern refrains become perfectly audible.
Ghostpoet has previously mentioned an uncomfortable relationship with live performance but as he gets into the swing of his set this concept is hard to believe. Songs such as Off Peak Dreams and X Marks The Spot show why this is an artist on everybody’s musical radar. His music brings a poetic sweetness to the gritty painstaking routines of paying bills and going to work. The performance has moments of real intimacy with slow, musing tracks such as Be Right Back Moving House which grab the heart strings without resorting to crass clichés. It is clear to see the transformation that Ghostpoet has taken after his Mercury Award nomination a few years ago. There is a swaggering confidence about the man that slowly leaks into the wide-eyed, energised Liverpool audience. As the evening progresses, tracks glide seamlessly into each other as Ghostpoet leads his musicians like a hip hop conductor. However, what is most striking about the performance is that this rapper is humble. Like some men who resemble their dogs, Ejimiwe is an artist who takes after his music: understated, very cool and evocative. As he jumps into the crowd and walks towards the bar, he almost says, “I am not a rock star, I am one of you lot.” Bravo.