Returning to Edinburgh for the first night of his UK tour, Tokio Myers was in a humble, appreciative mood. It was during last summer’s Fringe that he composed his transformative cover of The Weeknd’s Angel, which he went on to perform on The X Factor with Rita Ora, consolidating his mainstream appeal after winning Britain’s Got Talent.
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh ****
Rendered live here, the track retained plenty of the original’s bombastic impact, but the plaintive sampled vocal sustained the swagger while giving it a piercingly pure, yearning quality.
A classical pianist and percussionist energised and inspired by old-school electronica and raw hip hop elements, Myers is a classic crossover act – the bitter political pill of Baltimore, an appeal for social justice and reflection on deprivation, is couched in a steady beat and a hypnotically beautiful, even poppy confection, that never comes close to losing its alternative edge.
Whether standing atop his piano, prostrating himself across it in blissed out calm or intensely gripping a drumstick in his mouth as his fingers dance across the keys, Myers is a composed stage presence.
And his reinterpretations of others’ work flips them on their head, with Robert Miles’ Children suddenly characterised by sinister horns and jungle-like rhythms.
More compelling though, arguably, are the crashing synths of Our Generation, a heady maelstrom of noise.
Unprepared for the demanded encore, Myers closed gracefully with Debussy’s Clair De Lune in its entirety, having earlier played his breakthrough mash-up of the piece with Ed Sheeran’s Bloodstream.