It’s no coincidence that S.O. started his big return to his home town with the song London Nights so early on in the set. The gig was an opportunity to show to the UK fans that they were still a priority, even though he now lives overseas. It was a fantastic evening from start to finish.
In the promo for the concert, S.O. made it clear this was going to be a special night. One UK date for the whole of 2020. No second chances. As such, he was going the whole nine yards. Full band flown in from the States, headed up by S.O.’s longstanding producer GP. Full scale production, with high quality visuals. There was even a dancer for one of the tracks. Dedicated merch, just for the evening. S.O. didn’t want to give a fly-by-night performance, he wanted to give everything on stage.
The setlist was an interesting one bearing in mind that this was a live album recording. We were expecting to get a preview of new material. Instead the opposite was true. We heard tracks going all the way back to his second project So It Begins, released in 2011. It was more of a greatest hits than a new music listening party.
And that was OK. S.O. has such a rich treasure trove of music in his discography now and we got to hear a wide breadth of it. What we experienced was a love letter to the original fans who supported him from the very beginning. Many of them were there in full force on the evening. We got the sense there were more OGs than Johnny-come-latelys in the crowd.
Although S.O. has long been an accomplished artist, the Homecoming Concert represented the most complete S.O. show we’ve ever seen. One criticism we had of a previous show was the way it meandered towards the end. This time, S.O. had razor focus. Everything was meticulously planned, and we’re not just talking about the music. The visual identity of the whole evening, and that of the individual tracks, showed real purpose.
The inclusion of the live band was a nice touch. They played along with the original backing tracks to give an additional element that wasn’t there before. The guitar solo during Passion and Purity was incredible and justified the band’s existence in and of itself.
The S.O. Homecoming Concert was very much a solo show but we were treated to a live version of one of our favourite tracks of last year. Lucy Grimble came on stage for Goals in what was their first ever live performance of the track together. There were also appearances for the likes of Sure Thing and Love Is from So It Begins, Right Here, Right Now and Satisfy from So It Ends, and even some new tracks like OPA! from Augustine’s Legacy.
The big finale saw a turn up performance of Boast, complete with CO2 cannons and ticker tape. S.O. shared the moment with his family who joined him on stage.
Elsewhere, we heard Saint CJ who performed his hit Drippin’ with his buddy Smsn, Davecreates delivered some thought provoking bars, and Triple O gave a preview of what’s to come with his new EP Cry Like A Man, which comes out on Friday.
If this was the only time we’ll see S.O. in 2020, this was worth it. Give us an all in fully committed performance rather than a string of piecemeal shows any day of the week. London was where it all started for S.O. so it’s a treat to see the rapper come home and make such a fuss about doing so.
All images by Jermaine Dallas exclusively for the Sound Doctrine.