Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017

Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017Rag n Bone Man + Dan Caplen @ O2 Academy, 24th April 2017

Rag n Bone Man

It’s been quite a year for Rory Graham from Brighton who, as  Rag n Bone Man, is one of the best soul voices to come out of Britain for a generation. Tonight, on his UK tour to promote his debut album ‘Human’, he played the O2 Academy in Birmingham, returning in his own right, rather than as a support on his last visit here. The gig sold out in hours.

Rag n Bone Man

Supported by Dan Caplen, who set the mood right with his cello intro before jumping behind his keyboards, a personable chap whose stand out song was the gospel-toned ‘These Days’. He finishes his too-short set with ‘Bad man’ inspired by a street preacher calling him a bad man in the early hours when returning home in Brixton. He certainly needs a second listen.

Rag n Bone Man

But of course, the eclectic audience is here to see one man, and he opens with a cover of Louis Armstrong’s ‘St. James Infirmary’, simply stood there playing an electric guitar and letting that voice wash over us. Opening with a cover, on your own, shows that Rag ‘n’ Bone Man has no doubts in his ability. It takes some balls to open a show like that, but it is perfect and if there were any doubters they are instantly dismissed in those first three minutes.

Rag n Bone Man

Rag n Bone Man

The band is revealed during the second song, ‘Wolves’ and they are a very tight unit, with subtle female backing-vocals, it all allows the main vocal to soar, and soar it does, particularly during his new single ‘Skin’.

Rag n Bone ManRag n Bone Man

Rag ‘n’ Bone Man has quite a back catalogue, with ep’s and downloads but ‘Human’ is his first album and as a debut it really is up there with the best. There is always the question about “that difficult second album”, but to be fair on tonight’s performance there’s nothing to worry about. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man is good, very good, and he knows it. He exudes a confidence which belies belief for a young man, and I think it’s reasonable to suggest his next visit to the city will be at the Symphony Hall, and hearing those tones in that setting with those acoustics really would be something to cherish.

Rag n Bone Man

He is at ease with the crowd, introducing each song, and a little about the background to it, and ‘Perfume’ like all the other songs draws you in. I must admit at times I closed my eyes. I’m a huge fan of Otis Redding, but he passed before I was a twinkle in my Dad’s eye, but tonight, with eyes closed, on songs such as ‘Die Easy’ I came the closest to Otis I ever will. Can it really be that a young white lad from Brighton has one of the best soul voices you’ll hear? Make no mistake I was dubious tonight, thinking some studio trickery might have been at play on his releases, but to be in the same room and witness this raw talent and emotion was a privilege.

Rag n Bone Man

The capacity crowd tonight witnessed something special, and I’m confident in years to come, when he’s a global star they will talk of seeing him in a small venue in Brum. I know I will.

‘Human’ is out now on Sony Music. It could be the best album you’ll hear this year.

Set-list

St James Infirmary
Wolves
Ego
Your way or the rope
The Fire
Lay my body down
Perfume
Skin
Grace
Life in her yet
Odetta
As you are
Fade to nothing
Guilty
Human
Die easy
Bitter end
Hell Yeah

Reviewer: Glenn Raybone

Photographer: Stephanie Colledge

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