Ghostpoet at the Hackney Empire
The Hackney Empire is alive with anticipation as Ghostpoet (Obaro Ejimiwe) enters the stage. He doesn’t disappoint.
Although Ghostpoet is the main attraction, his backing for the night is far from low-key. A full band is packed onto the stage and an array of lights floods the venue, providing a unique visual element.
The set opens to the thunderous beats of Gaaasp and Ghostpoet begins his intricate weaving of lyrics, proving that he is much more poet than rapper. There is no spontaneity in his performance: every reverberation seems meticulously planned, demonstrating his pure, artistic approach. Each song is expertly embellished, dressed up a little for the sake of performance; Cold Win ends in an epic whirl of electronica and in One Twos/Run Run Run a serious pace gives way to all-out funk.
His darkly melodic voice only breaks between songs as he thanks the audience graciously, as if surprised that anyone even turned up – though that’s not to say he doesn’t give a confident performance. He moves with the microphone as if it’s an extension of his hand, stopping only to scratch at his decks.
It’s a sincere set, notably due to Ghostpoet’s deep lyrics – there’s no need to resort to rapping about women, money and crime here. Liiines is given a suitably uplifting edge with the addition of strings, and a series of special guests (Etta Bond on Meltdown, Lizbet Sempa on Dial Tones and Fabiana Palladino on Survive It) add a lighter tone to Ghostpoet’s dark murmurings.
The audience are passionate too; there is a feeling of artistry in the Empire. People have come to witness rather than party, although with Cash and Carry Me Home Ghostpoet manages to rile the head-nodding hipsters into a semi-frenzy that has all three tiers of the Empire up and dancing.
Ending the set he professes “I love you London!” and the Empire reciprocates.
Photo: Erol Birsen
For further information and future events visit Ghostpoet’s website here.
Watch the video for Meltdown here: