The 28-year-old from South London employs a style of performance somewhere between hip-hop, rap and jazz. His new album Hugo, released in October 2022, gave us high expectations for the night but we certainly were not disappointed.
The first act of the night was Wesley Joseph who set the tone for the evening and shared the passion of Carner's lyricism with songs that also constituted 'soft rap'. But we weren't left waiting for the main man for long. Excitement was rising and released with immediate adrenaline as the energetic Carner burst on the stage with 'Hate', a fast-paced storm. The crowd was electric and the screams of support were never-ending. Stood in a singular spotlight with his head in his hands, Carner was clearly overwhelmed.
A careful lyricist, he doesn't shy away from voicing issues surrounding race and identity in songs such as 'Georgetown'. The lyrics feature lines from John Agard's poem 'Half-Caste', giving the performance a poetic quality. He recognises the importance of being the change you want to see in the world and uses personal anecdotes to assure people they are not alone. After performing 'Still', an upbeat tune with serious lyrics, he mentioned fearing to release the track but being convinced it could help at least one of his listeners. Men's mental health is something that we should talk more about and music is an integral medium for this.
Poignantly talking to the crowd about his young son and his relationship with his father, his openness transcends just his music. In 'HGU', he speaks transparently about the importance of forgiveness for yourself rather than for the person you are forgiving. This set him free. His personal connection and authenticity are invaluable as his performances feel like conversing with a friend. I was lucky enough to see him outside after the show, and he spent time talking deeply with his fans. Many told him about the impact his music has had on their lives. He could not have looked more grateful.
Our personal takeaway from the night can be summed up by his phrase "Take these words and go forwards." No matter where you are in life or who you are, Carner's words remind us that the world is out there for us to make better. Forgiveness, self-progression and just being a kinder person, Carner has so many values we can all take forward with us. This is a line and a night we will never forget.
- Lyndsey Sleator & Kirsten Scott