Gig review: Ghostpoet, Edinburgh

British vocalist and musician Ghostpoet. Picture: Creative Commons
British vocalist and musician Ghostpoet. Picture: Creative Commons
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MANY say that the Mercury Music Prize can be a jinx for those who win it, but most would probably rather be in PJ Harvey’s commercial position than that of Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Ghostpoet, one of her 2011 competitors.

Ghostpoet

Electric Circus, Edinburgh

****

Most pleasing, judging by the evidence of this show, however, is the fact that Ejimiwe seems to have found his audience regardless. Electric Circus is a modestly-sized venue, but Ejimiwe and his band filled it such that the crowd were spilling out of the door into the hallway.

The singer cut a modest figure onstage, mooching around in black leather jacket and a pair of bookish corrective glasses, issuing thanks between songs in a soft, politely spoken London accent. Around him were a four-piece live band, reflecting the style of his recent and appropriately-titled third album Shedding Skin, a more live and open recording than his earlier urban electronic explorations (and also, despite failing to crack the top 40, his most successful album yet).

There are hints of the old-school sound of trip-hop amidst the break-up-orientated tracks from the new record, from the bleary melancholy of That Ring Down the Drain Kind of Feeling to the loping rock groove of Sorry My Love, It’s You Not Me and the jazz-inflected wish for escape from the grind Off Peak Dreams. The show ended on one of the most upbeat classics from his repertoire – Liiines, taken from that heralded first album – its capable, populist heart made richer by Ejimiwe’s focused lyricism and deadly delivery.