Concert Review with PHOTOS: Rag'n'Bone Man

Photos by Leah Victoria

Photos by Leah Victoria

By Glenn Blomfield

Artist: Rag 'n' Bone Man

Date / Venue: Friday April 6th, 2018 - Spark Arena, Auckland

Papa’s got a big band, and boy does in pounds the baseline through you. Rag’n’Bone Man has given us the pleasure of visiting our shores, and has brought his game on. Leaving with quite an impressive mark on this reviewer at least. Straight to the point, the guy has pipes, powerful bass-baritone voice, he sings without reckoning. A voice that sings Gospel, Blues, Soul, R&B, and Pop, the guy stands out from the crowd. 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 cant dance”. He has successfully broken that mould of ‘Pop’ singer, and given us talent, charmed us with that powerhouse. 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 Man really is. Rory Charles Graham a heavy tattooed, big Bearded 33yr old English White guy, with a god given talented voice. There is a road of misery in his songs, what seemed a road well travelled. He definitely shakes things up, with that mood of Hip Hop mixed in with the blues and soul, heavy drum bass line underscoring his band. The band comprises of brass section trumpet and trombone, bass guitarist, keyboardist, lead guitar, drums, and one female backup singer. With all that behind him (it is an impressive wall of sound), it compliments his driving soul filled baritone vocals. He has certainly put a fresh twist on things. I for one one am a new admirer, I will have his music prominently playing over and over 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 pleasure. That is one way to express the experience of being at Rag ’n’ Bones in concert, you do just that. You transport yourself and find yourself closing yourself off, closing your eyes literally absorbing in that Soulful groove. Rag ’n’ Bone Man does not give off that impression of bells and whistles. The singer is 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 and 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.

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 and he relates to the audience. This is not his first Rodeo, 6 - 7 years of singer song writer, now it seems his wings are now spreading wider and he is here to share his music. I definitely loved hearing his lyrics, which carried a lot of weight and connection. As his lyrics preach in one song “know My Gospel” those feelings of “I’ve been lost… in the fire of love”. “Baby you’re going to hell and back… crucify”. There is not all misery and pain in his songs, there are also happy personal songs. 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. We weren’t disappointed as an  encore brought the band back for two final songs; with 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 to favourite musician to follow. Very interested what the horizon brings for Rag’ n’ Bone Man. Great night of music, applause.