Ghostpoet – 3/11/17 – O2 Academy Oxford
Rarely in a generation does a musician take to the stage who has an ability to straddle multiple genres with remarkable dexterity and in doing so create rousing but fragrant compositions that ooze sentiment and sensation. Ghostpoet is one of these such performers. Indeed Obaro Ejimiwe, a two time Mercury Prize nominee, has a musical CV which transcends a consistent artist and moves into the echelons of legendary status.
His most recent offering Dark Days + Canapés is a claustrophobic and cagey examination of 21st century Britain and thought by many to be up there with his best to date. Fusing trip hop, jazz, IDM and industrial soundscapes, Ghostpoet’s ability to rejuvenate and rediscover musical techniques while connecting with contemporary thoroughfares is as dazzling as his confrontational lyrics are searching and provocative.
Standing in front of his sell out crowd, despite his five strong live band behind him, Ejimiwe looks strangely isolated, staring solitarily out and gently nodding in appreciation of our presence like a respectful monk about to begin prayer. As the four clicks of the drummers sticks echo around the O2 Academy, we break straight into Ghostpoet’s sturdy, jazz inflected grooves and at once, like a mechanical toy come to life, Ejimiwe allows his music to consume him and for over an hour we are treated to his trademark eloquently jagged work, the sharpness of his tongue matched only by the fearlessness of his approach.
Like a destitute and macabre lounge singer, Ghostpoet spills out his world view through the most sophisticated and nuanced compositions, only his beats as big and ambitious as the subject matter of his expertly crafted lyrics. After an unavoidable encore, given the bellowing which refused to dissipate long after the musicians departure from stage, Ghostpoet climatically ends his show with Freakshow, his new calling card from Dark Days + Canapés, and as the words tumble out across the venue it becomes apparent that in fact we are the ones witnessing the Freakshow. In todays transient music scene, an artist who remains truly authentic, constantly provokes and creates increasingly mesmeric and unorthodox work that questions societal motives and conclusions is an unmitigated rarity. And for that alone, Obaro Ejimiwe is a national treasure of the highest degree.
5 / 5