Sitting somewhere between the heavy social commentary of Scroobius Pip and the observational perceptions of The Streets, languid emcee Ghostpoet struck a chord with the release of his debut LP. Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam isn’t cumbered with addressing the state of the nation but neither is it as flippant as say, Mike Skinner’s Nokia woes. Instead, you could say it is the honest account of a generation – well, certainly aspects of it.
Fresh & Noble presented Ghostpoet to Dublin early last Spring… a keenly received, if somewhat loungey, presentation. Since then Obaro Ejimiwe and his band hit the club and festival circuit. More recently Peanut Butter Blues… was Mercury Prize nominated, making the 12 strong shortlist. Of course PJ Harvey won (though an outside debut from a leftfield “urban” artist wouldn’t have been surprising, rather, almost atypical of the Mercurys). However, the nomination and on-the-night performance gave adequate elevation to Ghostpoet’s already growing profile. And where March’s show was Ghostpoet’s grand introduction, tonight is a tour de force.
It’s the same stage set up as before: Obaro on mic and control desk with Kaoss Pads and laptop, accompanied by a guitarist and drummer. But two seasons later, Ghostpoet’s performance is fuller, somehow weightier. ‘Long For The Night (Yeah Pause)’ is all shuffling percussion and ringing electronics. ‘Garden Path’ employs an echoey vocal and psych guitar line. ‘Survive It’ revisits the loungey vibe, with a soulful chorus and danceable message of grit. ‘Liinnes’ is rousing indie pop while ‘Us Against Whatever’ is dedicated to the city … and Dublin is hanging on every word. Every slurred, lispy, raspy word. Ejimiwe’s off-kilter rhythmical vocal delivery is only matched by his genuinely commanding presence, earning him the affectionate “Ghosty” nickname from his fervent front-liners.
It’s not just the front row that’s enamoured. The crowd at Whelan’s might be a cross-section of care-free Monday-night revellers, clock-watching nine-to-fivers and everyone in-between, above or beyond, but there’s a blanket connection with the London-via-Coventry-back-to-London-again lad and his ingenuous accounts of life’s highs and lows. Dancing out to the woozy anthem ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’, there are very few present that haven’t, at one point or another, needed a hand in that respect. There’s even fewer that can put real life problems so eloquently.
Photo by Sasha Bond.