Poised, matured and tenacious. The humble as ever singer/songwriter/rapper, Bryson Tiller, silenced any doubts I held against his live performances on this cold, Tuesday night in London.
Before I begin, I must commend the support performance that SZA showcased, featuring hits from her Grammy-nominated debut album ‘Ctrl’. With many support acts I have witnessed, they are often only there for the direct appeal of a select few and generally not for the mass of the crowd, rather, a bit of live background music to warm the ears – not SZA. The electricity she occupied with the venue with was striking, a true asset to an evening of talent.
Despite the briefness of Tiller’s set, nothing was excused from the production – a blend of smoky blues, reds and purples set a backdrop to a lone figure, garbed all in black with a cap burrowed down over his forehead. He carried the same image he presented whilst supporting The Weeknd back in March, however this time, the stage was his. Technically his performance was as sound as before, yet, in March, there was an essence of being overwhelmed by the capacity of a 20,000-strong crowd in the London o2. The 4500(ish) gathering of supporters in Hammersmith was ideal. After attempting to claim tickets to his brief UK touchdown in 2015 at KOKO, London (on three separate occasions), it was astonishing to acquire tickets so stress-free two years on.
Admittedly, True To Self isn’t something that I find myself listening to on a regular basis, especially as my access to a wider wealth of music continues to flourish. Not to say it isn’t a good album (receiving a respectable 4.3/5 Bytes on my review), but it just hasn’t proceeded to grow on me or resonate, as does Trapsoul. It certainly felt as if this was the case for a vast collection of Tuesday’s audience. Thankfully, Tiller seemed to have anticipated this, splitting the set 50/50 with singles from both records, accompanied with the one-off rendition of DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts, much to the audiences’ satisfaction.
Seeing through the many distractions during the performance, including those being pulled over the barrier, security shining lights into the crowd and arguments ensuing between crowd members, admittedly, there wasn’t must artist-audience interaction. The occasional humbled dialogue dotted throughout the performance was all to engage with, perhaps due to the unforeseen delay in set-timings could have shortened his allowance. Considering this, Tiller capitalised on what he does best – perform. Run Me Dry had the crowd bouncing along to the Latino-inspired beat in unison
This show ticked off a few songs from my ‘Must See Live Bucket List’, including Rambo, 502 Come Up and Don’t. Each from Trapsoul, they concluded the show as the last three songs – with every word from Don’t pulsating through the venue on the curtain-closing rendition. For me, Rambo provided the most exhilarating moment of the night – the sombre confidence in the lyrics, pieced with the off-beat keys and body-trembling bass, perfectly encompassed the atmosphere for the evening. As the song concluded, Tiller’s resident drummer continued into an unrelenting solo piece that seemed to draw energy from all corners of the room – leaving Tiller and the audience alike stood in applause for his efforts.
By no means was this show the best I have ever seen, but that doesn’t matter. Bryson Tiller showcased a performance that delivered what was needed from him, one for the fans that accept him to be an artist that can relay his music on a live stage precisely with no bells and whistles. To say I’d pay to do it over again is difficult, but I certainly have no regrets.