Writer’s Block ft. Luc Skyz, Cynthia Erivo, AKS, Clement Marfo & The Frontline, Hip Hop Shakespeare x Tanya Auclair | Event Review

Ever since hearing about Writer’s Block I’ve wanted to get down to one of their nights, and so when Sunday July 17th’s talent-filled line up was announced, that was all it took to convince me. Upon entering East London’s CAMP I was struck by the intimacy and comfort of the venue; chairs and sofas all facing the stage. The glass mirrored exterior reflected what was, and would soon become even more obvious… art comes first here.

The night’s first act, Luc Skyz takes to the stage, taking pains to explain the concept behind each of his songs. This honesty manifested itself in the lyrics too, easily relateable themes brought to life by an audible rapping style, making each word ring loud and true. Citing Jack Bauer in his second track ‘Never Lay Down’ the rapper half sings, half raps catchy lyrics the likes of “every day a star is born, I’m a shooting star ‘cuz I shoot right past ‘em” before dipping in to Busta Rhymes‘ ‘Look At Me Now.”

The most powerful song of his set, however, was the one he saved for last, ‘What’s the meaning.’ “A lot of people have related to this, and its helped them on their journey” he introduces, and no more than a few lines in, its easy to see why. Beseeching life questions the likes of “is life just an interlude to death” Luc’s passion and anguish transmit well over the mic, giving life and a voice to questions everyone at one point or another has asked themselves.

Cynthia Erivo, soon to set off on tour as the lead role in Sister Act is next on stage. Excitement, and expectation levels high, she quickly renders the crowd speechless with her phenomenal voice. Her soulful, peaceful delivery is supported with a drum, a guitar and two back up singers who give a gospel-choir feel to her made-for-musical style singing.

Letting her voice speak for itself she stands center stage, eyes closed, occasional uncontrollable smile on her face singing “I’ll Change,” a cover of Frank Ocean’s “American Wedding,” and “Handcuffs” with beautiful lyrics the likes of “last night I dreamt I was with you, and when I woke it came true” drawing the audience into an almost dreamlike trance. Demonstrating the extent of her vocal range her set culminates with ‘Losing Ground’ and ‘Signals,’ infectious smiles on the faces of each of the performers.

Cynthia Erivo – ‘American Wedding’:

“We’re switching up the vibe, as we do here at writers block,” the host announces, before AKS sashays onto the stage. “I don’t like to talk too much, I just let the music do the talking” he says, before launching into an a capella freestyle with sick lines the likes of “I’m full English, like breakfast.” Complete band behind him the lyricist rocks back and forth, voice echoed by back up singers, whom he promptly introduces, each given time to show the mastery of their crafts. Bouncing heads in the crowd as AKS performs “House Called Home,” followed swiftly by the title off his recently released EP The Bus Stop. “As people we wait around for things to come and take us to where we wanna go,” he introduces, “that’s not how it works.” One of the most relateable UK rap tracks in recent years, AKS keels over as if in pain, passion evident, words resonating in the break that follows.

Clement Marfo and the Frontline then take the stage. “I’m really nervous by the way, I don’t usually get nervous, but we’re stripped down today” he says, several of the members absent due to the fact that this is a rare acoustic performance. Stripped down or not, however, their infamous energy is still present, positive lyrics and powerful back up singing all the more noticeable with just keys and guitars to support it. The crowd quickly singing along to the catchy hooks, CMTF bring life to ‘lights out,’ ‘Uncomfortable’ and ‘Survivors.’

With lyrics the likes of “we’re like survivors, backs up against the wall, write us off but we’ll never fall down” powerfully belted out by Kojo, the bands passion is endearingly, and supremely evident, sunglasses whipped off mid song as emotions rise. Jumping around, Clement Marfo makes sure to address the crowd in between each song “I hope you like this one,” loud claps reassuring that the audience definitely does. Their set culminates with ‘Champion,’ the band vibing well of each other and the audience, bouncing heads and wide smiles all around. “When you see them on T4 remember where you saw them first” the host announces as mics lowered, they exit the stage.

Lorianna Little from Hip Hop Shakespeare then brings an original take on both Hip Hop and Shakespeare to Writers Block. Opening with a pop quiz in which she reads out quotes, audience answering with a show of hands whether they believe it to come from Hip Hop or Shakespeare, the extent to which we were wrong interestingly proves the similarity between the two. Exploring themes that are prominent in both, Lorianna raps Shakespeare sonnets over Hip Hop beats, as well as some original pieces inspired by Shakespeare’s language. Founded by MOBO-award winning Hip Hop artist Akala, the Hip Hop Shakespeare company is an educational and interesting way of exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between what could be thought of as two very different things.

One-woman band Tanya Auclair then takes to the stage, loop pedal and medley of instruments at the ready. Starting the show with drum sticks, and a Macarena she creates her own sounds on the spot for songs the likes of ‘Illiterate,’ and ‘Origami,’ taken off her recent EP, before singing over the looped sounds. Almost lullaby like she alternates between recording, and looping “I’m not very technical” instantly proven to be false. That cant be easy. Greeted and sent off with massive cheers, she brings an end to what has been a mesmerizing night of talent to keep an eye on, for when they undoubtedly, blow up.

Find out more about Writer’s Block here.

Privacy Preference Center