Ever since he re-emerged from the depths of celebrity obscurity with that 1xtra video late last year it felt like something special was brewing.
In the 16 years between his debut Born To Do It and his latest offering Following My Intuition, David fled to America, releasing disappointing albums (both musically and commercially), living ostentatiously in a Miami penthouse and building up a cult Instagram following.
For a star who made his name before the height of social media, the ‘Where Are Ü Now / Fill Me In’ video became a viral sensation and sparked a universal mass call for the return of a man whose reputation had been scared in large part by a rubber mask and a puerile comedy sketch called Bo Selecta.
Despite the mockery, the lost years and the photographic timeline of his playboy lifestyle, Craig David is well and truly back. Following My Intuition reached No.1 on the album charts last week and his live show ‘TS5’ (short for Tower Suite 5, the name of his Miami Penthouse where he used to throw regular house parties) has been doing the rounds at every major festival this summer and earlier this week he brought that party to London.
No backing band, no fancy set up; just humble little Craig, his laptop and a microphone – an audacious strategy by anyone’s reckoning, but boy did he pull it off.
TS5 is essentially Craig David DJ’ing a setlist of his favourite tracks whilst singing over them in his distinct honeyed R&B cadences. Plenty of throwback hip-hop from the 90s, some classic 2-step Garage and a sprinkling of newer material glittering the set.
He jumps around on stage like an excited puppy running free in an open park, just vibing off the crowd’s energy. I’d go as far as saying he probably hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol or seen a line of drugs for years.
His seemingly innocent nature adds all the more to his charm, grinning away as he plays ‘Still D.R.E.’ remixed with his very own ‘Walking Away,’ or as he gets gassed mixing Destiny’s Child’s ‘Say My Name’ into ‘Feed Em to the Lions’ as he did in Radio 1’s Live Lounge recently. It’s a heartwarming sight and a world far removed from the days when he was Keith Lemon’s go-to joke.
He doesn’t win any points for the ‘live’ element of the gig given the fact it was literally an extended PA, but he steals the show with his high energy and all round nice-guy demeanour.
The new material is a little lacklustre with songs like ‘Change My Love’ falling pretty flat, however bringing out Big Narstie for ‘When The Baseline Drops’ was certainly a highlight. A handful of tounge-twisting freestyles over some jungle and drum n bass more than make up for the drop in energy levels.
We live in an era where the 90s is now considered ‘vintage’ and for a man who made his name around the tail end of that decade, the time for a comeback could not be any better. Millennials are obsessed with nostalgia and if you weren’t around the first time here he is; Craig David: Born to Re-Do It.