Last month, Ruth and I travelled out to London, UK to go see Childish Gambino’s live show at the O2 Arena. This tour is Childish Gambino’s last ever, and so naturally, Ruth and I felt so humbled and grateful that we managed standing tickets to witness true magic on a live stage. Ruth introduced me to Gambino back in secondary school and we have been appreciating his music and art together since. Despite a huge catalogue and immense variety of musical quality and sound, I think it’s safe to say that Ruth and I’s favourite thing to sing along to is “Donde Esta La Biblioteca?” which he performs in the TV show, Community, where he (Donald Glover) plays Troy and performs it with his on screen best-friend, Abed. I’m not saying my best-friend and I do it better, but we’re pretty confident we knock it out the park.
I travelled out to London two days before the concert. I had been working full-time in a job I hated the entire month before. I had also just received some pretty letting down news regarding my masters. I was worn out and extremely tired. So much so, that I actually forgot my passport, purse, charger and the concert tickets – all of which my mom had to drop out to me. I needed the trip away more than I even realised. Luckily, two of my cousins live in London, so once I arrived I could relax in the comfort of a family member’s home. Ali was away, but Ahmed and I got to go out for the night. He treated me to a super yum Turkish cuisine dinner and we went to go see the movie, ‘Us’. It was so nice to catch up with him because I never get to see much of him, and he’s my favourite cousin. The next day, Ruth arrived to London. We went for a cute brunch and walked around Oxford Street picking up some last minute necessities. We headed back to Ahmed’s where we all chilled for a bit, before we took our bags to our Airbnb apartment. That night, Ruth and I headed out to Tonight Josephine for a few quiet drinks. I just want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the barman at Tonight Josephine for taking such good care of me all night. He made me cocktails from scratch and put precise care and effort into each flavour so as to enrich my drinking experience as someone who doesn’t consume alcohol. I had never had anyone really do so much to give me exciting drinks, as opposed to regular Coke or Redbull.
The next day, Ruth and I decided to go explore Camden Market. We got to see such a different variety of cool shops and stalls. We had dinner there too before we headed back to get ready for our main event, Childish Gambino. We were running a bit late and arrived as H.E.R was mid-way through her second performance. I absolutely love H.E.R and she is practically 90% of the playlist I use when I’m taking nudes, trying on lingerie and all the rest of that side of things. Her vocal performance was mesmerising and she really set the mood for Gambino’s show. I love when artists bring really good opening acts along, because it really enriches the whole experience. Ruth and I were already pretty far up in the crowds of people standing awaiting Gambino. We met some American girls who we were chatting away to while we waited impatiently and tried to find decisive ways to get closer to the stage. They were so lovely. One of my favourite things about Ruth and I, is how easily we interact and meet new people. We always have such cool experiences because of all the different people we engage with.
When Gambino emerged out onto the stage, there was an electric but simultaneously still energy in the room. I had never felt a room feel so still while buzzing with excitement all the same. For many, it felt like the realisation as he came out for the first few moments, that this could very well be the last of Gambino as we know him. This tour, everyone was well aware, was what he had announced to be “the last Childish Gambino tour” ever. While some people think that he will re-emerge under a different name, and some believe that this truly may be his the last of his music all together, one thing was certain about the night – the one man show resembled anything but an artist ready to farewell his craft.
Shirtless, wearing only white linen pants that resemble the ones he infamously showcased in ‘This is America’, Gambino graced the stage with warm love and wild eyes. He danced across the stage, moving in a way that could only be described as the merge of sex and humour, his character prominently defining itself as present and engaged with not just himself, but a room of 20’000 people. He kept the crowd on their feet the entire night, intuitively moving between rap and jazz, slow jams and more hyped up tracks. Ruth and I, simultaneously looked at each other during ‘Summertime Magic’, as we rocked back and forth to the beat of the music – I knew we hadn’t felt this alive in so long. That was something that Gambino truly evoked within everyone that night – a feel of liveliness. Claiming “we’re in church tonight”, “I want you all to feel this with me – we’re at church”, one thing was clear; with Gambino as the pastor, the whole crowd was ready to worship.
While ‘Heartbeat’ didn’t make the set, Gambino varied from new works to old, leaving some of the best for last. ‘V. 3005’, ‘IV. Sweatpants’ and ‘Sober’ had the crowd wilding, mosh pits and dance circles quickly forming, before Gambino brought the whole room to a hushed standstill, setting the mood for the last moments of the magic that he had just brought to stage. Taking the lead, Gambino led the choir with ‘Redbone’, everyone singing at the top of their lungs, the room emotive and unified for one final hymn.
The night came to an end, and I think everyone was already replaying it in their heads as soon as it ended. This simply cannot be the last we get of Childish Gambino. One guy embraced me after the show and asked if I had been at the concert – when I told him I was, he gave me a big hug and just said: God bless, I hope you had a good time, I hope you feel alive”. I was stunned by the amount of love Gambino had created, not just from him to us, but from us to one another. Ruth and I decided to sit in a nearby bar while we waited for the line to the underground to die down. There, we met Natalie and Josh, who we wound up spending the rest of the night with. Two of the nicest Londoners I’ve ever met, we got to know each other as we waited for the line to die down. We talked as we caught an underground to Floripa – a little Brazilian club in the city, where we danced to the best music the 00’s had to offer. We also got what I must say was one of the best döner kebabs ever – and I’ve tried them in Germany. I don’t know if it was the hunger talking, but I had never enjoyed a kebab more than that night.
While the entire trip to London was amazing, and seeing Gambino live is an experience that I will never live down, there was one thing that elevated the whole experience. I got to meet up with one of my friends from Alexandria, who I hadn’t seen or spoke to in a really long time. Ruth was so excited to finally be meeting any of my Egyptian friends, but I felt so warm when I got to see a friendly face that I had missed for so long. As I left for Gatwick, I felt so rested and genuinely happy. I got into my seat on Gatwick Express, put in my earphones, and listened to Childish Gambino for the entire duration of my journey back to Ireland.
Childish Gambino had this Muslim worshipping in a church, and I know God ain’t even gonna be mad about it.
Childish Gambino: 5/5.