Review: Loyle Carner, Marble Factory

Loyle Carner celebrated the release of his brooding third album ‘Hugo’ with an intimate signing & performance in Bristol for Rough Trade. Mitchell and Anna went down to capture the scene.

Images and words by Mitchell Williams and Anna Cunningham

Image: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals

Pulling up to the Marble Factory, we’re pretty sure every single ticket holder was already here. The queue stretched across both sides of the road, requiring dedicated stewards to manage the flow of traffic (some had been waiting since 3pm!). You’d typically see this sort of crowd for one of Motion’s iconic raves, attended by up to 4000 people at a time; on this occasion, Loyle Carner’s loyal Bristol fanbase spared no time to wait.

Once being admitted into the main plaza, the team at Marble Factory kept the venue doors closed before explaining to eager fans that they would be slowly moving through the building before reaching the stage. This warning was heeded, and swiftly forgotten as attendees rushed through the complex, racing to be as close to the action as possible.

Image: Anna Cunningham, @acunningphotos

As the crowd eagerly waited for Carner to appear, clouds of smoke continuously filled the stage, keeping the audience on tender hooks as to which cloud Carner would appear from behind. Many took to Instagram, commenting on his most recent post; ‘Where are u??? I’m sweating so hard [right now]’ and begging him to ‘Get off your phone lad we’re waiting for you out on stage’.

Accompanied by features from Rebel Kleff and Athien Akec, Carner opted to bring an entire live band to perform along with him – we’re huge fans of when artists bring instrumentalists on board for live shows as it delivers a fresh sonic experience; adding to, whilst staying true to the recorded music. The vivacity that was brought by the bounce of a real drum kit far outweighs rapping over your typical backing track. 

Images: Anna Cunningham, @acunningphotos

We found Marble Factory on this occasion had moved the barrier forward, towards the stage by a couple of feet, as I understand to allow greater access to the show. For what became an extremely energetic, passionate show, fans used the small gap between the stage and floor to get as close to Loyle as possible, passing him phones to record on, clothing to wear, and skateboards to autograph.

I don’t think there was a moment where fans weren’t screaming back every word, besides when Loyle broke and slowed down to recite a poem he had written. Combining new hits such as ‘Hate’ and ‘Plastic’ from new album ‘Hugo’, with later classics such as ‘Ottolenghi’ and ‘Damselfly’ from previous records, Carner closed the show with a self-proclaimed poem ‘HGU’, the last song on the album, a dedication to proudly offering his father forgiveness, followed by an explosive rendition of ‘Aint nothing changed’.

Image: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals

We stayed for a while after the show to chat with other creatives capturing the show, and to allow the stacked crowd to disperse, but even past an hour after the show had ended, fans were eagerly waiting outside the venue for a chance to meet the man himself.

Overall, it was impressive to see a performer go from having everyone rapping his lyrics back to him, to the complete silence and stillness of more than 1600 people. Something we have never witnessed on this scale before; it was truly immaculate. He seemed in awe of what he had created and honestly so were we.

Images: Left: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals; Right: Anna Cunningham, @acunningphotos

Image: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals

Images: Anna Cunningham, @acunningphotos

Image: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals

Images: Mitchell Williams, @mitchellvisuals