Review: Noname Live in Sydney

I first came across Noname, then Noname Gypsy, on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape in 2013. She popped up a few months later on Mick Jenkins’ The Water[s], and by the time she went head to head with Chance once more on 2015’s standalone single Israel (Sparring), the Chicago-born artist well and truly had my attention. A year or so later she finally released her debut project Telefone, proving that she’s even more talented on her own than off the back of other artists. And she proved it again and again, across the textured ten-track mixtape, making it one of 2016’s best, and most acclaimed, albums.

Still, it would be almost eighteen months before the artist born Fatimah Nyeema Warner would make her way down to Australia. Her debut tour featured a coveted slot at Meredith Music Festival and Fairgrounds as well as a headline tour. Her Sydney performance took place at a heavily sold-out Metro Theatre on December 6.

On opening duties were Melbourne instrumental hip-hop purveyors Billy Davis and the Good Lords. From from releasing their own album A Family Portrait, they more than warmed the crowd with a raucous, energising live set that’s made them one of the most exciting bands-to-watch in 2017.

Backed by a simple three-piece band, Noname arrived on stage to rapturous applause from a crowd who were attentive, receptive and warmly welcoming from start to end – and that’s not something you always get from a hip-hop crowd at the Metro on a Wednesday night.

Opening with Sunny Duet, Noname’s set dotted back and forth between Telefone tracks that took on a new energy in the live setting. Perhaps the greatest aspect to the performance was that she emanated the same radiant warmth and excitement felt within the crowd – she was so excited to be there, and it showed. There was a real joy to her movements as she bounced around the stage, performing for, and relating to, the crowd with a unique, genuine magnetism.

What’s special about Noname’s music is that it’s equal parts warm, thoughtful, genuine and genuinely fun. On stage, she upped the ante from every angle – it’s easy to see why her fanbase has grown so quickly. We can only hope she returns again soon.