Am I in a dream? Mercury Award nominated Ghostpoet is playing at the Registry, for free? It appears so. From a Pompey drinking hole to Jools Holland in a few days; followed by shows in Australia and Europe, Ghostpoet is a man with a busy schedule and a relentless work ethic. The sort of work ethic that is getting him noticed, he plays any show he can for his rapidly building fan base and purely for the passion for what he does, and that passion certainly shines through tonight.
Upon first arrival at the Reg, you would be forgiven for thinking this was just any other night given the slender crowd. There is a worrying feeling for tonight’s headliner that there will be more people around the It-Box than him. But slowly the fans seep in through the doors and when Ghostpoet arrives on stage he is given a hero’s welcome. The crowd seem unfamiliar with the first few songs but are still captivated enough by the energy and electro-tinged beats to sway whole-heartedly.
Ghostpoet has an easy natural rapport with the crowd, and embraces the tiny venue just as he would at the string of summer festivals he recently played. The man and band tirelessly work their way through their only album to date, with ears pricking up with the faint sound of recognition to songs like ‘Us Against Whatever Ever’ and ‘Liiines’. The atmosphere of the crowd is constantly on the up taking the 3 men on stage with them, allowing Ghostpoet to prove what all the fuss is about. He has found himself a niche in British hip hop with his authentic take on an increasingly repetitive and currently lacklustre genre, perhaps picking up where artists like Roots Manuva and The Streets left off.
Roots in Coventry, followed by a recent relocation to South London may explain Ghost’s blatant deprivation of grime tempos, beats and bars. The laid back electronic styling isn’t just a revival of trip hop; it’s much deeper than that. The lyrics are something especially poignant, dealing with issues perhaps a lot closer to home for the majority of his fans than their N.W.A albums. Ghost’s voice itself teeters between lazy comatose/drawling depressive all the while trying to hold back a wall of emotion behind tongue in cheek lines and catchy hooks.
Tonight it is the charisma and live presence of the band that really impact upon the crowd, who looking around, you can hazard a guess many are here through word of mouth. After a harmonious rendition of his second single ‘Survival’, he closes the show with the most well known number from his repertoire ‘Cash and Carry Me Home’, which gets the loudest sing-a-long and biggest cheer of the night. Ghostpoet is a man who no doubt has the potential to make tsunami sized waves in the hip hop world; he already has the help of Radio 1’s Gilles Peterson and showcased his ability to break out his comfort zone dueting with the likes of Mike Skinner and Kano. But breaking out of his comfort zone is exactly what Ghost needs to do if he is to get bigger. Unfortunately, he can’t just rely on warm synthesizers, a lazy voice and good story telling to carry him through to the charts.