Words by Dylan Bryant
Armed with one of the most consummate voices in music, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man (Rory Charles Graham) graced the stage at Brighton Centre on Sunday 17th October. Born in Uckfield, this was a homecoming show for the singer and the perfect first live performance for him since lockdown.
Since rising to fame in 2016 after the release of his hit single ‘Human’, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man now has 3 Brit awards and a collection of massive hits under his belt.
I was lucky enough to have a front row seat at the sold-out gig, giving me a perfect view of the stage and the anticipation was palpable as the crowd waited for the man himself to appear. However, it was the seven-piece band that started the set with a grand introduction of heavy drumbeats and screaming synths that led into ‘All You Ever Wanted’ – a favourite from his incredible new album ‘Life by Misadventure’. It was an excellent start which injected energy right from the off with the crowd singing along.
This was the first night of the tour and Rory joked that he’d forgotten how to speak to the audience after such a long break from playing live. But he quickly found his funny and casual rapport, which was an ongoing theme of the night. At one point he even poured a tequila shot for himself and a fan!
The crowd were delighted when Rory broke into his big hits early on and ‘Skin’ was third on the setlist, which was incredible to hear live. He picked up his candy apple red Fender Strat and strummed the simple, but emotive chord progression throughout. The difference between the soft ringing of the steel strings and his massive voice silenced the room.
He followed this with ‘Alone’, which is my personal favourite track from the album, and I was delighted when he announced he was going to play the ‘Nothing But Thieves’ remix – as I’m a big fan of theirs. This was a great addition to the setlist and showed his versatility as a musician.
Rory teased the crowd all night about playing his biggest hit ‘Human’ and finally, when the song did come; it was incredible, with an addictive bassline and rhythm, Rory danced and two stepped around the stage.
I must give credit to the band who were the perfect accompaniment to Rory’s mammoth voice and a highlight was when his bass player launched into an amazing solo during the penultimate track of the night – ‘Hell Yeah’.
The set ended with ‘Giant’ (which he released alongside Calvin Harris in 2019) and was the perfect finale for the night. Not only a literal description of his size and incredible voice, but it was also a huge crowd pleaser.
Before playing, Rory explained that this was actually the end of his set. He joked that everyone knows what usually happens at the end of a gig, but said he would rather just play the song instead of leaving the stage, only to then have to return. He ended the night by praising his band, before summarising himself as a “fat geezer who can’t skateboard or play football” – a harsh, yet humble summary for someone with such talent.
Thanks to Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and his band for a great night, I’m in no doubt the rest of the tour is going to be a great success.
Find all of our favourite tracks from Rag ‘n’ Bone Man on our Spotify.