Loyle Carner: The details of the rapper's stirring and intimate Glastonbury performance

Glastonbury hosted Loyle Carner

You witnessed something special on Saturday if you watched Loyle Carner perform as the main act on Glastonbury's West Holts stage.

The 28-year-old London rapper, who competed with Lana Del Rey and Guns N' Roses, drew a loving audience for a soul-bearing and personally cleansing performance.

I'm not treating this like the wildest night of my life, he said.

"I'm grateful that you are with me today; you could have been anywhere. ".

Hugo, his third album, takes a broad look at his relationship with his biological father, his identity as a mixed-race young man growing up in South London, and the scourge of knife crime that has afflicted the city. These themes are all explored in great detail in the show.

It was motivated by his own son's birth, who is now three and, he was proud to note, was present in the audience, and how that made him reevaluate his own relationship with his own father.

Benjamin Gerard Coyle-Larner, the musician, was raised by a white British mother and a black Guyanese father who was "present at times and not present at other times.".

Instead, his mother and stepfather, Nik, raised him and his brother in Croydon. He began playing music at a young age with the 2017 album Yesterday's Gone, which received a Mercury nomination.

Carner called his father to tell him his girlfriend was pregnant in 2019 and was shocked when he hung up.

But a few weeks later, he gave his son the offer to learn to drive when he gave him another call. Over the course of those lessons, as Carner discovered the details of his dad's upbringing in the foster system without a father figure to look up to, their relationship was mend, or better put, rebuilt. him . the father's role.

"To make a long story short, that car is where we started our relationship. It turned into a safe place for me to talk, shout, apologize, and cry," he tells the BBC.

Carner created the album in honor of those in-car conversations after being inspired by the transformation. The name of the album was inspired by his father's vehicle's license plate, S331 HGU. And on Saturday at Glastonbury, you and his dad, who was watching on television at home, both saw that exact same car on stage.

"If you don't know where you're from, you don't know where you're going," Carner told the audience. "I needed my son to know where he was from.".

"At first, I tried to comprehend while feeling irate and hateful. And during these trips and driving lessons, I briefly put the phone away and began to pay attention. I first began to understand my father's side of the story when I realized that he was a black man growing up. He lacked the skills necessary to love me in the way he desired.

However, she gave me the skills I needed to be the best father I could be for my son by raising me there. ".

The theatrical performance was created to reflect this story—a progression from rage and resentment to comprehension and, ultimately, forgiveness.

George Thomson, the company's creative director, says, "We wanted to translate that emotional story into a physical story.".

The concept of using the sun as a 12-hour day cycle was developed with Ben. As a result, the show transitions from the intense red of the sunset during the opening number, Hate, through the somber introspection of night, and into a new dawn that demonstrates the new direction in his relationship with his father. ".

It was a close, active collaboration.

Ben would sketch, take notes, and make what amounted to color charts even during rehearsals, according to co-creator Harrison Smith.

"I believe he is such a good storyteller because he naturally thinks visually. ".

Loyle Carner
Carner used his personal experience to illustrate broader points.

Hate, an angry, antagonistic song, opened his Glastonbury performance. Plastic, a polemic about the allure of consumer culture that is seductive but reductive, came next.

At his most enraged, Carner performed on top of the vehicle, violently bouncing on the bonnet. Carner is only partially illuminated by a single streetlight as he stands in the dark during the more reflective Polyfilla, where he wonders how his shortcomings will affect his ability to be a good parent.

Carner says, "I divided it into acts, and each act has its own beginning, middle, and end. I treated it like a Shakespearean play.".

He uses his personal story to explore larger frustrations with the world, just like on the album.

Fans were urged to "forget all that toxic masculinity" at Glastonbury. that destroyed my childhood," he wrote, adding a biting commentary on his own personal discontent with the government.

After playing Blood On My Nikes, he introduced former youth MP Athian Akec, who delivered an emotional speech about knife crime and praised the teachers who are on strike for better working conditions and pay.

"I would like to defend teachers. He tells the BBC, "I want to speak out for nurses. "I want to stand up for the citizens in my neighborhood. I feel responsible for the individuals in my vicinity. ".

Loyle Carner at Glastonbury
The stage was created to resemble a car window, giving the audience a look inside Carner's head.

It's a subject he feels strongly about. He claims that some of the teachers he encountered as a child "saved my life," and both his mother and girlfriend are employed in the field of education.

He continues, "I have a lot of friends who wouldn't be here or wouldn't have accomplished anything if they hadn't had that one person to believe in them. I'm upset that we're not giving teachers the world.

We treat them like they're babysitters, but for so many children who are having problems at home for whatever reason, they really are the last line of defense. ".

According to him, the current strikes in schools and hospitals are a Catch-22 situation that ultimately harms the students they are supposed to be guiding.

Teachers should be fighting for the students who need their assistance, not for themselves.

But nobody else seems to, when they don't stand up for themselves. ".

Loyle Carner at Glastonbury
Despite competition from Fatboy Slim, Guns N' Roses, and Lana Del Rey, the rapper attracted a sizable crowd to the West Holts stage.

This could have easily turned heavy-handed in less capable hands, but Carner's laid-back demeanor made his headline performance seem more like a private discussion with a friend.

He was assisted by a flawlessly funky live band, which provided depth and texture to his lyrical meditations. Special guests included Mercury Prize winner Sampha, guitarist Tom Misch, and singer Olivia Dean.

The final song on the album, HGU, which talks about accepting himself and forgiving others in general, is the result of all those complicated, intertwined frustrations and fears.

According to him in the liner notes for the album, "In rap, everyone else is like, "If your dad left and he's rubbish, just let that anger be your motivation.".

"That's kind of cool, but if you let it go past a young rebellious stage, it can cripple you. ".

According to Smith, "you'd think a song about forgiveness would be all lovey-dovey and light," but since it's about actively choosing to forgive someone, there's an outpouring of anger that paves the way for forgiveness.

It's not an organic move. And when the audience sees how it all comes together, it's very moving. ".

Being "so frustrated and broken-hearted with the way the world is going" every night and ending in "a place of forgiveness, not only for my father, but also for myself," according to Carner, is a cathartic act. ".

"It's been such a lovely thing for me. ".

The audience for Loyle Carner's set
The stage brought to mind Stormzy's legendary performance from four years ago on the Pyramid Stage.

He told his tale as an example to the crowd on stage.

I once carried a chip on my shoulder and a weight. If I forgave my father, I believed that I would be freeing him, but what about myself?

I didn't realize that by forgiving my father, I was also forgiving myself and freeing myself from the grudge that had been lodged against me. " .

Then, as he walked off the Glastonbury stage, the star gave this advice: "Take these words and move forward.".

The BBC iPlayer currently has Loyle Carner's Glastonbury Festival performance available.

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