Live Review: Rag’n’Bone Man – Leeds O2 Academy

The ‘Giant’ that is Rag’n’Bone Man delights a Yorkshire audience in Leeds with his soulful deep voice – A superb midweek night out!

Words and Photos – John Hayhurst

There is a massive queue of people curling around the venue and almost up to Leeds Beckett tonight. This venue could have sold out twice over, and I would actually have expected someone of the presence of Rag’n’Bone Man to really be headlining the Arena down the road. Although looking around the packed hall we have plenty of Thirty-Fifty somethings here, this isn’t an artist who is particularly down with the kids, despite his Post Malone face tattoos, he is only in his mid thirties himself, but his audience average age is at least 10 years greater and could probably do with a sit down.

Rag’n’Bone Man – Leeds Academy Photo by John Hayhurst

Just after nine o’clock, the lights dimmed and the band entered the stage – a decent sized backing band of guitarist, trumpeter, keys and synth players, drums and then two backing singers at the front. As Rory James (aka Rag’n’Bone Man) walked on to the stage, he almost fell into the pit at the front, and thankfully the lights remained reasonably bright for the first few songs. He is a giant of a man, and that isn’t to use the song title as a pun – he is a massive presence at the front of the stage, but it is his voice that booms out clear, strong and full of body.

After the first two songs, he told the audience that he liked to get through a few songs before he speaks, but he was happy to be up North as he finds the further you travel North in the UK the nicer the people are! Even having a bit of a dig at Birmingham, no idea what he said in his hometown of Brighton but it can’t have been the same.

Rag’n’Bone Man – Leeds Academy Photo by John Hayhurst

Despite the stature of the man there is a vulnerability in his inbetween song banter, almost a soft nervousness in his speech, which is in direct contrast to his singing voice which can make your teeth rattle at times.

This is a promotional tour of his new album ‘Life By Misadventure’ but he doesn’t just leave it there as other songs from ‘Human’ and ‘Disfigured’ are also covered. This is a tight competent backing band that can swing from pop to rock in the blink of an eye and particularly the bluesy ‘Somewhere Along The Way’ to the rocky Nothing But Thieves remix of his latest single ‘Alone’ before stripping back to the intimacy of ‘Perfume’ from his 2015 EP.

Rag’n’Bone Man – Leeds Academy Photo by John Hayhurst

The last part of the set as expected paved the way for the climax of ‘Human’, where the audience were able to lose any remaining inhibitions and really go for it. He finishes with an stunning performance of the now dance classic ‘Giant’. This was a great balance of intimate ballads and full on rock/soul performances, with a velvet voice that made the foundations shake. The tour sold out months ago but it won’t be long before he returns to much bigger venues.