Actor, comedian and rapper Donald Glover – known to the fans of his music as Childish Gambino – put all of the aforementioned skills into commission last night (January 25) when he performed at East London venue CAMP, with a set of new material from his latest LP of the same name.
Supporting act Josh Osho [who could very well be the UK’s answer to John Legend] warmed up the crowd with smooth vocals and a passionate performance. With elements of blues and a voice that at times cracked under passion, Osho performed tracks “Birthday,” “SOS,” “Redemption Days” and, my personal favourite, “Giants,” which with its rocky feel and deeply resonating chorus, seemed to strike a chord with an audience that were eagerly anticipating the arrival of Mr. Gambino.
And when he finally did arrive on the stage after a rather prolonged delay [which made us very thankful for the skills and music choice of DJ Semtex], the room erupted in cheers. Whipping off his hoodie, Gambino turned to face the crowd greeting fans with an almost matched excitement. “I haven’t done a show in a room like this in a long time,” he said, referring to the underground, low-ceilinged, intimate venue that is CAMP. “So I wanna burn this place down.”
And if passion could ignite, his words would have become literal. With frantic hand movements, bulging eyes and an unparalleled energy, Gambino bounced around the stage, band equally energetic in their performances.
“This is fucking L… I’m loving this already” he said, performing the likes of “Freaks And Geeks,” “Bonfire,” “Firefly,” “L.E.S.,” “All The Shine” and “Heartbeat,” from his recent album Camp, which his fans echoed back to him word for word.
Undeniably a skilled social commentator, Gambino’s entertaining and amusing song lyrics are also thoroughly poignant, reflecting truths of a society we have mostly come to accept as the norm. That being said, there was a sound issue and many of these poignant lyrics couldn’t really be heard. But that didn’t seem to matter very much; the majority of the crowd knew most of the words anyway.
It was evident that the night was not about an artistic performance, but rather about raw passion and energy – and put like that… who could find fault in it? After all, if you want to listen carefully to the lyrics, you could always buy the album and sit at home with your headphones on.
Instead, Gambino wholly engaged with the crowd – jumping into the midst of it several times throughout the night and causing many a mosh pit. Bodies rising and falling like waves crashing against a cliffside, the passion ricocheted through the crowd, onto the stage, and back again.
One of the highlights of the night was when Gambino grabbed the mic for an impromptu freestyle. Undeniably more and more rare these days, it would be difficult to disagree with the fact that he executed the feat with ease and talent. “Making this up as I go along,” he spat, “I hope that I don’t choke… I’m in London now, I guess that makes me a London bloke” he began, to instantaneous cheers.
One thing is for certain; Mr. Gambino certainly left the cake, and took the whole bakery for a most engaging and energetic performance.
Photos courtesy of G. Smith @ iamthenublack.