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Craig David has always had an extreme blend of good luck and bad. His first album at the age of just 19 quickly sold more than eight million copies before his career took a downturn and he retreated to the US, writes Lizzy Dening.
But, as the sun comes out over the Posh ground after a morning of incessant rain, and he’s greeted with rapturous cheers from a giddy crowd, he must feel his fate has firmly turned again.
A Noisey article back in 2015 suggested that David’s return from Miami to the UK scene had been made possible not because he’d changed, but because we had. We’d been a little snide about garage back in the Noughties (not helped, of course, by the whole Bo Selecta parody) but thankfully we’ve now reached a time when music is more democratic.
And frankly we should be grateful he came back to us. After all, he doesn’t need the money – his return is entirely for the love of it (there’s a reason his debut album was called Born To Do It).
Older and wiser his audience – largely in their thirties and forties – aren’t about to let their babysitter go to waste. It’s one of the friendliest crowds I’ve seen – fitting really, when David might be the nicest performer. He’s extremely humble and full of praise, not only for his band, but for the fans who have been with him since his Artful Dodger days.
With such a refreshing attitude it’s no wonder that artists are queuing up to work with him. He’s brought his faithful support with him to Peterborough: Sigala, Becky Hill and Nathan Dawe, who get the crowd in the party spirit before the man himself bounces onto the stage, looking sharp in a blue jacket and jeans. Almost two decades on his voice hasn’t lost any of the sweetness of his teenage years – never has the word ‘Peterborough’ sounded so melodic.
Happily, Craig David 2.0 hasn’t forgotten the songs that made him a household name, and the set blends classics even your mum would be able to hum along to (Walking Away, Fill Me In, 7 Days) with newer hits, such as No Drama and I Know You.
There are moments when we’re transported back to a time of buying physical music from HMV (RIP), but this is no nostalgia act. While he’s always been famed for his silky vocals, David is actually an impressive MC, filling Big Narstie’s When The Bassline Drops rap section with – dare I say it – a better version.
This talent comes as no surprise to fans of Radio 1Xtra, where David’s comeback was cemented in 2015 after his live, rap-heavy remix of Fill Me In went viral. It’s this version of the song that closes the set, leaving the crowd bouncing into the night, more than ready to face the hangovers of 40-year-olds.
* The Peterborough Telegraph was originally unable to publish photos of Craig David from his concert without permission from his management company JEM Music Group. Permission has now been granted.