Even before his recent renaissance Craig David was a household name across the United Kingdom. The singer, songwriter and record producer from the south coast initially found fame in 1999, featuring on the single, ‘Re-Rewind‘ by the Artful Dodger. He then released his debut studio album, Born to Do It, the following year. Over his career, Craig has sold a staggering 15 million records worldwide as a solo artist.
In 2012 it was widely reported that Craig moved out of the limelight and moved to Miami to start a new chapter in his life. He never lost his love for music and it was still his main passion in life. It was in this Miami penthouse (Tower Suite Five) where TS5 was born. Craig’s improvised vocals over classic garage and dance tracks were picked up by Kiss FM and then Capital Xtra.
The popularity of TS5 led to a bit of revival for Craig as he performed at various festivals and clubs where he would sing, MC, DJ, mixing his own tracks with classic tracks by the likes of Robin S, Jay Z and Dr Dre.
I first saw the TS5 show at Common People in 2016. While the show captured the crowd’s imagination, they loved the mixture of Craig’s greatest hits along with others of the era, there were a few grumbles that he spent large parts of the show being the DJ booth.
Following the release of his new album Following My Intuition, Craig is returning to his home town for a series of live shows with a full band and backing singers, and not a DJ booth in sight. The first show replaces the original date which was scheduled to be at the Ageas Bowl. Being so used to heading Southampton Guildhall for live music, I went there first of all and was slightly confused to see the doors locked and the lights off. After a few second the penny dropped that the show was in fact at the Mayflower Theatre just around the corner.
I managed to get into the Mayflower just in time to see the support act, Bobii Lewis begin his set. I’ll be truthful, prior the show I’d never heard of Bobii but my Google research showed that he’s previously collaborated with Wretch 32 and Avelino on the track ‘Mark Duggan.’ Had you listened to Bobii before seeing him you’d be forgiven for being little surprised that the soulful RnB/Hip Hop vocals are coming from the slender redhead. Bobii is an animated performer and continuously moved around the stage (not making him easy to photograph!). The sizeable crowd were receptive him and music, which included such as his latest track ‘Watch Me‘ and ‘Grateful.’
Bobii will have picked up a few new fans with that performance and I can’t imagine that it will be long until he’s making a big name for himself within the UK RnB music scene.
Bobii Lewis opening for Craig.
As the time approached 8:30pm the near capacity crowd took to their seats in the three tier auditorium. With the venue in darkness but for the eliminated screen at the back of the stage, the first sign of Craig David was when his silhouette appeared in front of the big screen. Craig and his band then went straight into ‘Aint Giving Up’ and followed with classic tracks ‘What’s Your Flava’ and ‘Fill Me In.’
Craig vocals are still as strong as they were in his early 20’s. He came across as a really likeable guy and that if you had the chance to meet him, he would embrace you like an old friend. He took the time after every few songs to address the crowd, clearly grateful for the support of the fans for reigniting his career and showing him love since the mid 90s.
When introducing ‘Walking Away,’ Craig explained that this track turned the hopes and dreams of a little boy from Southampton into reality. He also found time to during the show to dedicate tracks to his mother and father who were in the audience. He credits his father exposing him to reggae and dancehall as a child as being a large influence behind the track ‘Warm It Up.’
Despite the grade two listed building being all seater, the whole crowd were stood up singing and dancing in the aisles throughout the whole performance. Craig’s early work would always receive a huge ovation from the crowd but it was during his encore when he performed ‘16‘ the crowd really went nuts and completely let go. Craig will return for three more live shows next week (11th, 12th and 13th Sept) and if you’d like to be there then there are a few limited tickets available from Craig’s website or the Mayflower the box office – www.mayflower.org.uk. Don’t hang around as I fully expect these to be snapped up by the time the night comes around.