Words/ photo Glenn Blomfield
Papas got a big band, and boy does it pound the baseline through you. Rag’n’bone Man has given us the pleasure of visiting our shores,and has brought his A-game, leaving quite an impressive mark on this reviewer. Straight to the point, the guy has pipes,a powerful bass-baritone voice, he sings without reckoning.
A mighty voice that booms Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, and Pop, the guy stands out from the crowd, even just looking at him, it is not easy to put the two together. Even with his own comments during the night, “fat guy on stage that can’t dance”. He has successfully broken that mould of a clinical ‘Pop’ singer, and given us talent while charming us with those powerhouse vocals. Without knowing or seeing Rag’N’Bone Man you would initially believe you are listening to a Black Soul singer, as I did when I heard his first hit song ‘Human’ on the radio in 2017.
Going to the concert at the Spark Arena was really my first hand experience seeing live who Rag’N’Bone really is, Rory Charles Graham a heavy tattooed, big Bearded 33yr old English White guy, with that god-given talent. There is a ‘road of misery’ in his songs, he seems to have walked the road “less travelled”. He definitely shakes things up, with the mood of Hip Hop mixed with blues and soul, while heavy drum bass line his sound, underscoring his band.
The band consisting of brass section Trumpet and Trombone, Bass Guitarist, Keyboardist, Lead Guitar, Drums and a Female backup singer. With all that behind him, it is an impressive wall of sound, complimenting his driving soul filled baritone vocals. He has certainly put a fresh twist on this otherwise traditional music style, I for one one am a new admirer, I have his music playing non stop on my headphones as of now.
I mentioned earlier that there is an interesting conflict of the man, and the music, that visual interpretation of putting the two together, but when you close you eyes and just groove into his cool Gospel sounding music, it is just simply pleasurable. Thats one way to express the experience of being at a Rag’N’Bones in concert, you transport yourself, and find yourself closing yourself off from the world, closing your eyes literally absorbing that soulful groove.
Rag’N’Bone Man does not give off that impression of ‘bells and whistles’, the show is singer front and centre, and close behind a band lined up across the stage, the show is the music, they are there to play and entertain, this is good old entertainment. This leads me onto what is another connecting value of Rag’N’Bone, his songs and lyrics. They carry that personal vulnerable attachment of misery, melancholy, and emotional power, everything we value in Soul and Blues, sung with conviction.
Rag ‘Bone’ Man when singing on stage you feel that connection, and also his humble pleasure of sharing himself to a audience, those moments of pure joy and humbleness that proudly express on his joyous face. He relates to the audience 6 – 7 years of being a singer/song writer, now it seems his wings are spreading wider, and he is here to share his music. I definitely loved hearing his lyrics, that carries a lot of weight, and connection. As his lyrics preach in one song “know My Gospel” those feelings of “Ive Been Lost…in the fire of love”. ‘Baby your going to Hell and back…Crucify”. Its not all misery and pain in his songs there are also happy personal tunes, for example for his 7 month old son Rueben “George has a new Friend”, a song for his Grandmother, and another for his brother’s daughter Odetta. Rag’N’Bone Man finishes with a cappella song ‘Die Easy’ then leaving the stage, of course leaving us wanting for more, not leaving us disappointed, the encore saw the Band back for two final songs, and one being a personal favourite of mine ‘Bitter End’ played and sung loud and proud.
How to describe what is a concert audience is for Rag’N’Bones? I only had to look around me, and one surprising factor, it is a very diverse group, young and old, wide and spreading. I for one, have discovered a new addition a new musician to follow. Very interested to see what the horizon brings for Rag’N’Bone Man. Great night of music, applause.