Live Review: Spooky Black at Birthdays

How misleading first impressions can be. When Spooky Black first surfaced online with his doo rag and laughably lo-fi videos last year, many people just shrugged and classified him as an r’n’b version of his peer, Yung Lean.

Yet there was something else that separated Spooky away from it simply being an internet gimmick; the songwriting was just so damn tight, and he had the voice of an angel. In the time since Without You was first released online, the unassuming 16 year old has built up a mini online storm with his Leaving and Black Silk mixtapes, demonstrated by the appearance of Robert Pattinson, FKA twigs, King Krule and Jarvis Cocker among the interested spectators at his sold out show at Birthdays in Dalston last Friday.

Now preferring to go by the name of Corbin, the young artist was seen lingering in the corner of the basement venue during the support act, no one seemingly acknowledging his presence or realising he was even there. He weaved his way through the crowd a couple of times, and again, no reaction.

But it is this distinctly ordinary appearance that has made Corbin such an intriguing artist, and I was fascinated to see how his voice would hold up in a live setting, and suffice to say, he is probably the first person I’ve seen perform live whose vocal performance totally outdid his recordings.

Along with his guitarist Psymun, Spook sang his way through a brief 35 minute set which was punctuated by short, awkward interludes, including one nervous joke about AC/DC being a hot new band that people should listen to. Personal Touch was a highlight and but it was his performance of crowd favourite Without You blew the proverbial roof off (video below) and left everybody in quiet amazement at what they had just witnessed, and confirmed, as if we needed telling anyway, that Corbin has a real star quality about him. The secret is now well and truly out.

Words: Lev Harris

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