REVIEW: George The Poet @ The Haunt, 27/2/15

Presented by Live Nation and held at The Haunt, George Mpanga, better known as George The Poet, performed an amazing show in Brighton on Friday 27th February.

Born and raised in North-West London, George includes his experiences of growing up in this area into his socially conscious poetry, as well as inspiring passion to see others progress. Recently signed to Island Records, the Cambridge University graduate brings a unique side to music as he embeds his poetical lyrics over brilliant beats.

Starting off the show was George’s support act, Shelz The Dancer. Introducing himself and interacting with the audience by asking their opinions of dance, Shelz prepared the crowd for an amazing night ahead. He then drew the audience closer through his smoothly sequenced moves, dancing to a range of songs, from beastly beats on tracks such as Kendrick Lamar’s m.A.A.d City, to chilled tunes, such as The Script’s The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.

After this performance there was an extended break, which increased the crowd’s eagerness for the headline act to grace the stage. Finally, Shelz returned dancing along to one of George’s poems, forming an introduction for the poet to make an entrance. Stylishly walking and dressed in a smart/casual attire, George took the stage, whilst his band played live instrumentals and the crowd roared with excitement to see him in the flesh.

Grabbing hold of the mic, the talented 24 year old spoke to the audience, explaining how excited he was to be in Brighton, whilst being interrupted by an iPhone ringtone. He picks up his phone, explaining that he’s unavailable to talk, creating the illusion that he is speaking to someone on the phone, when it’s really all part of his poem, Grinding. Oblivious audience members soon realise the illusion when his band begin to play instrumentals to assist the iPhone ringtone beat, whilst George poetically rhymes over these sounds.

Following this creatively crafted poem/song, George interacts with the audience further, leading to another one of his songs, 1,2,1,2. By this time, the audience were dancing to this catchy song whilst singing the lyrics “Seven billion people in the world and there’s only one you”. It was clear to see that George was already inspiring the crowd with his message.

As the evening progressed, the message George was telling got deeper. Towards the middle of the gig, he performed If The Shoe Fits from his ‘Chicken and The Egg’ EP. This poem entailed him portraying three characters, each of whom told a story from a different perspective. Demonstrating his passion to ensure the audience received the message of this piece, the Londoner paused in-between verses to explain the essence of what each character was saying.

Throughout the gig, George referenced his hometown and dedication to reach out to those from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as help them advance their position in the world. As a fellow Londoner, I could relate to a great deal of these references. His poem My City was packed with imagery and socially conscious lyrics, whilst he maintained his bold stage presence. Nearing the end of the gig, the artist performed some new material, including his recently released song Cat D, as well as some exclusive pieces.

Captivating the audience with his remarkable ability to blend poems over rhythmic beats, George perfectly portrayed his competence, musically and poetically at this gig. When the show had finished I was left in awe, as I was still digesting some of the powerful words spoken. At the back of the venue, there were copies of George’s new poetry book ‘Search Party’ up for sale. Alongside this were cards on which audience members could write down their name and email address, to keep updated and support this inspirational movement.

I would recommend anyone interested in poetry or sociology to have a look at George The Poet’s work, as it’s filled with knowledge and insight into certain paradigms, that you may not otherwise have access to.

By Maxine Harrison

The Verse Staff

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