Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Creeper. Live at the Institute Birmingham review (4/1217)

The name of this tour 'The theatre of fear' left me wondering a lot about from my first time seeing Creeper. Would it be a circus style show with fire breathers, dancers and magic tricks (like the time I saw Bentley Rhythm Ace?) or something entirely different? Throughout all the supports (the only one I caught was Can't Swim- who were pretty decent) was a banner proclaiming the show to be a world fair from 50 years ago. 'The Theatre of Fear' began ominously with (spoiler alert) people walking around the pitch black stage shining torches, as the intro spoken on the PA became more and more distorted. The eponymous purple suited James Scythe was there to warn us all that not all was what it seemed, and that we should beware of the ghoulish figure haunting the fair, before the ghoul itself was revealed with its eyes shining bright white spotlights over the audience. The plot of all this was quite irrelevant of course as bells and whistles or not Creeper can still put on an amazing show. Maybe this wasn't the circus I imagined, but full credit is due to Creeper for putting the effort into making their shows that bit more special. I will remember this show in particular for the frenzied mosh-pits during 'Room 309' and the almost constant wave of crowd surfers that I had to lift over my head and the few accidental kicks I took to the head while doing it. Despite all the chaos Creeper fans are a loving bunch who are all happy to pick each other off the floor and saying sorry for kicking others in the head.
While Creeper are all great musicians Will Gould stands out as being a fantastic front-man. His voice sounding even better live and looking like the kind of Goth that all Goth's aspire to being. Keyboardist Hannah Greenwood had her own time to shine as her and Creepers guitarist led another sing-along of 'crickets' the fact that this acoustic ballad was a highlight of the show and not a low only further highlights the strength of Creeper's song-writing. The same was true for 'I choose to live' and after the inevitable encore 'Misery' as the whole audience belted out every word. '

There's a lot of fucked up things happening in this world' said Will towards the end. I think he was telling us to all be good to each other, yet I think he also highlights why bands like Creeper are needed. So we can have an hour or so of blissful escapism surrounded by like-minded souls.

9.2/10

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bands to watch in 2018!

With each passing year writing lists such as this seem more and more pointless. The bands who I want to break through probably won't break through. If they do, it will be the year after. There seems little point in simply writing about the bands that are most likely to break big otherwise I'd be telling you to all listen to another Dirty Hit signed Manchester band ripping off the 80's mainstream and passing it off as somehow alternative. These are my favourite of the bands currently being praised by other critics, alongside some of my own favourites.


Seafoal
Seafoal's 'Zeraclius' EP marks Seafoal's reinvention from acoustic ballardy to dark synth-heavy electronica. With her shaven head, punk style and outspoken nature, Seafoal and her gothic pop sound seem perfect to soundtrack whatever chaos lies before us in 2018. Check out 'Chess' or Fiends' to see what I mean.
Check out - Chess

Superorganism 
If you've caught Supreorganism's Jools Holland performance you'll know why they're on this list. Superorganism are made up of 8 members from all over the globe. They sing, dance, paint themselves in glitter and make a refreshingly fun, unique take on electro-pop. Their songs seem to start, stop and glitch throughout. Of the 3 songs they've dropped so far 'Nobody cares' is the best
and despite having played so few shows and releasing so few material, their colourful pop deserves to break through in 2018.
Check out - Nobody Cares

Yaeji
The New York based South Korean DJ, singer and songwriter Yaeji, is on this list mostly because of the highlight track from her second EP 'Raingurl'. A ridiculously catchy deep house banger/female empowerment anthem, that has her understated voice over chilled house beats. The rest of her EP proves that there is more to her than dance anthems, dipping her toes into alternative RNB and remixing Drake's dance-hall hit 'Passionfruit'. Where Yaeji goes from here is anyone's guess, but it sounds like she's only getting started.
Check out - Raingurl

Shame
Shame are my kind of band. Shame sound as scruffy as they look and like all the best indie bands it's hard to imagine them ever doing anything else. Shame learned their trade in the same infamous London pub that birthed Fat White Family. Shame are the real deal, much like Cabbage they seem to be caught between political angst and simply taking the piss out of themselves. Yet the talent behind such post-punk tunes such as 'Concrete' or 'Gold Hole' is clear to see. Yet there is a softer side to Shame. Most notably on their completely insincere love letter to Theresa May, 'Visa Vulture'.
Check out - Concrete

Her's
I'm not going to pretend that Her's are in anyway original. If you've listened to Mac Demarco or Hoops, you'll know exactly what to expect. I have to give credit to Her's however because I've rarely ever seen a band having so much fun on-stage. Her's clearly love performing and entertaining their growing cult following. We will sorely need their like in 2018
Check out - Speed Racer

Hypnosister
Since parting ways with ALLUSONDRUGS Damo has toured with Louise Distras, and now started his own solo project. He was the core songwriter and guitarist for one of my favourite bands and wrote many fantastic songs for them. His two singles 'Bother' and 'Poorly boy' follow in a similarly grungy direction as his old band, and considering how incredibly underrated Allusondrugs are Hypnosister looks like it will be similarly fantastic.
Check out - Bother

Gotts Street Park
Hailing from a council estate on the outskirts of Leeds. Gotts Street Park are making a nocturnal soundtrack to urban Britain. Mixing Jazz, Soul, and hip-hop together in their own smoky lo-fi style and collaborating with other rising stars such as Grand Pax and Benny Mails. Their début mix-tape' Volume One' mixers their early singles with newer snippets and samples of what's yet to come.
Check out - Love in bad company

Trash
The excellent Leed's based DIY label are always worth keeping an eye on for their ability to shine a light on some of the UK's most under appreciated bands. Following on from their minor successes with  ALLUSONDRUGS and Narcs (still two of the most underrated bands in the country) Clue's new 'likely lads' are Trash. Making the kind of washed out 80's tinged indie pop that never really goes out of style. Trash are ending 2017 on a high with the release of their début EP and touring a support slot with JAWS. Trash's upbeat indie-pop will be the soundtrack to 2018's summer.
Check out - 81

Starcrawler
LA's Starcrawler seem determine to put the fun back into rock n' roll. Attracting plaudits from several rock stars and signing to rough trade records. They've become known for wild live shows in which singer Arrow de Wilde spits blood and seemingly has convulsions on the floor. Starcrawler sound like all the best bits of 70's glam rock and clearly want to bring back the theatrics of shock rock which have been sorely missed these past few decades.
Check out - Ants 



Sons of Raphael
Sometimes a début single tells you all you need to know about a band. Sons of Rapheal are two brothers with two guitars and a drum machine who look and sound like a 70's punk band and yet also look and sound like nothing else but themselves. The A-side 'Eating people has a video where they play to a bemused church congregation as Ronnie sings in his bizarre snarl of a voice. This is rock n' roll reinvented for a new generation.

Check out - Eating People

Hear the best bits of all these bands and more on my play-list below 
https://t.co/XsPM4CArNp

*okay Pale Waves have got some good songs, but I just want a little bit more than that from my music.

Enter Shikari, Lower Than Atlantis, Astroid Boys. Live at Arena birmingham Review (24/11/17)

One of the best things about Grime's second wave is that it's opened up the borders beyoind just London. One of the most unlikely yet deserved success stories is Cardiff's Astroid Boys (7.2/10). Hot off the release off their debit album 'Broke'. Astroid Boys killed their set causing the hyperactive crowd to violently mosh and circle pit for the majority of their set. Despite being such a new act many of the crowd seemed to know the words to many of their album highlights off by heart, chanting 'we know you don't like the foreigners' over and over. Astroid boys opening set was a fantastic way to start the show. Bridging the gap between the rock and the grime kids, causing chaos Yet still leaving me with a feeling that they can do even better.
While I may moan about the 'Faux Rock' likes of Bastille or Imagine Dragons, what's slightly worse is the plethora of dull middle of the road rock bands currently doing the rounds. Of all the many underwhelming rock albums this year, Lower Than Atlantis' (6) 'Safe in Sound' was one of the most underwhelming. The live LTA experience isn't much better. The rest of LTA started playing for a bit until Mike Duce ran onto the stage with his bright red guitar and started singing 'Had Enough'. A song so mediocre and childish it makes The Enemy song of the same name seem like a masterpiece. There's nothing much wrong with LTA. They are pretty much everything you'd expect from a modern rock band. Big riffs, heavy grooves and radio friendly choruses. They're not bad so much as just kind of predictable and clichéd. I got bored and went get a beer just in time to be back to hear Mike Duce claim that they'd be back next year and sell out the whole room. If Enter Shikari can't manage to fill out the Arena Birmingham then I don't think LTA have any hope at all.
Enter Shikari's Birmingham show began with an ominous radar screen and the sounds of airplane pilot chatter being broadcast via a quadrophonic sound system around the room. The system was so high tech that the sound of the plane moving around the room felt as if one was flying directly over my head. When Enter Shikari came to the stage it was to 'The Spark' swiftly followed by their new album highlight 'The Sights'. Which immediately caused a mass singalong. Despite their state of the art sound systems and lighting rigs Enter Shikari are endearingly prone to fuck up's. The euphoric 'Anything can happen in the next hour' had to be played twice as drummer Rob Rolfe accidentally started the intro for 'Zzzonked' half way through. After apologising for 'rocking out too hard' they started again. Rou Reynolds also got a bit carried away screaming on top of a stack of speakers during 'Take my country back'. After one of the band pointed out that he'd forgot to play his trumpet solo, he whipped it out for a quick impromptu solo. Another highlight was when Rou magically disappeared and reappeared at the back of the arena with just his piano and a spotlight to play 'Airfield' and 'Adieu'. The former being one of the most poignant and introspective pieces Enter Skiari have ever written. The latter inspiring another mass sing-along while a flurry of hands reached for their phones to take photos, before Rob finished the tune with a thrashing of his drums.
Anesthesist predictably threw the crowd in top uproar before Rou announced 'Phase Three' where they would attempt to play 4 songs in the space of 8 minutes, all averaging at 170 BPM, and demanding that the crowd go wild. Which they did as Enter Shikari launched straight into 'Sorry your not a winner' and hands aloft clapped 3 times perfectly on cue. Rou Reynolds is proving to be a fantastic frontman. He often adressed the Birmingham crowd in an old school newcaster kind of style, similar to that of Public Service Broadcasting.  His shirt somehow managed to get ripped yet he didn't seem to mind to much, asking to feed off the Birmingham crowds energy. Chris Batten said that he reckoned Birmingham were on a par with the Manchester show in one last attempt to cause hysteria. The inevitable encore wasn't followed by 'Mothership' as I was hoping but another newer track about Rou Reynolds battle with anxiety, 'Live outside'. Not that I really minded, Enter Shikari had delivered more than enough.
(8.8)





*disappointingly I didn't get to hear 'Mothership'
Sorry about the shit photos, I took them on my phone.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The best albums of 2017 (honorable mentions)

These are all albums that are worth hearing but were not quite good enough to make the top 50. Listed in no particular order.

Thundercat - Drunk
Vince Staples - Big Fish Theory. 
Wiki- No Mountains in Manhattan
Figure 0.9 - Casket (based on a true story)
Stormzy - Gang Signs and Prayer
J Hus - Common Sense
Inheaven - Inheaven 
Chealsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun
Baxter Dury - Prince of tears
Kelela - Take me apart
SZA - Control
The National - Sleep Well Beast
Drake - More Life
Weezer - Pacific Daydream
Elbow - Little Fictions
Lil Pump - S/T
Slowdive - Slowdive
Kasabian - For Crying Out Loud
Blondie - Polinator
Sylvan Esso - What now?
King Gizzard and the Lizard wizard - Murder of the universe
Alex G - Rocket
Rat Boy - Scum
Neil Cicerega - Mouth Moods
The Drums - Abysmal Thoughts
Beth Ditto - Fake Sugar
Songhoy Blues - The Resistance
Mr Jukes - God First
Girl Ray - Earl Grey
Wesley Gonzalez - Excellent Musician
Phoenix - Ti Amo
Mura Masa - S/T
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam - The Mirage/Sink or swim
Kasabian - For Crying Out Loud
Queens Of The Stone Age - Villians
Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference
Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins

The best albums of 2017

1. Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales - Room 29
Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales are two individuals who seem to be perfectly suited for making a collaborative project. Room 29 is about the (in)famous Chateau Marmont Hotel. Known for decades of decadent parties hosted by the rich and famous. Jarvis and Chilly go a bit further than just detailing the excess. Chilly Gonzales provides a rich improvised piano backdrop to Jarvis Cocker's part sung/part spoken monologues. Jarvis finds time to sing about his own childhood and how it inspired his own love of TV and film. Chilly also provides a piano backdrop to a narration of Howard Hughes time in the hotel.  Much of Room 29 has an intimate feel about it. As if you're in the room with Jarvis making slightly awkward post coital conversation.
Key Track - Trick Of The Light

2. Wiley - Godfather  
Few grime MC's could go back to their roots so successfully after years of experimenting with more mainstream pop sounds. Even fewer manage to do this at the top of their game. On 'Godfather' Wiley lives up to his name. There is not a verse on the album that isn't delivered with passion or fire whether that be from Wiley himself or the several guests that litter the track-list. He's frequently funny, witty and quotable. Wiley commands respect from his contemporaries and newcomers alike. Most notably from a frenzied Ghetts on 'Bang'.  The production is hard-hitting, throwing back to the sounds that made grime so vital in the first place. From the ethereal intro and robotic, eski-beats of 'Birds and Bars', Godfather hooks the listener in, with the exception of the slightly disappointing Slow jam/break up song 'U were Always (part 2)' every single track is a banger.
Key Song- Can't Go Wrong

3. Sampha - Process
The genre recently christened 'Alternative RNB' has already become so saturated and mainstream that it takes someone truly special to break through and make their voice heard. Unlike Frank Ocean, or FKA Twigs, who are mostly focussed on sexuality and relationships. Process finds Sampha reflecting on his guilt and sadness following the loss of his mother. Sampha pulls off the neat trick of doing this via an expertly produced and wildly experimental batch of songs. Taking cues from early Massive Attack as much as the piano balladry of James Blake. The mix of eclectic production and poignant song-writing made Process a worthy Mercury Prize winner.
Key track - Blood On Me

4. Creeper - Eternity, in your arms
It was inevitable that with My Chemical romance still inactive and many other heroes of the 00's pop punk and emo scenes either defunct or changing sound and style, that a new band would emerge to pick up where they all left off. Enter Creeper. A band with the looks, sound, style, and most importantly, the tunes to make pop punk vital again. They may not be one of the most innovative or original bands (despite their forays into country & western) but it's the songs that really stand out. Landing somewhere between the operatics of Meatloaf and the angst of MCR, every song here demands to be sung along as loud as humanly possible.
Key Track - Misery

5. Tyler, The Creator - (SCUM FUCK) Flower Boy
Flower Boy is the album where Tyler finally lived up to the massive potential that he has shown since his Odd Future beginnings. It shows him taking huge steps forward as both an MC and a producer. Fleshing out the quirky production style that made OF stand out in the first place and ditching the rape jokes and daddy issues for an in depth look at his psyche, materialism, loneliness and how fame and fortune has affected him.
Key Track - See You Again

6. Kendrick Lamar - Damn 
While 'DAMN' may initially seem like a return to the psychedelic tinged trap sound of Kendrick's breakthrough tape 'Overly Dedicated'. Repeated listens reveal an album just as ambitious and complex as his previous jazz/funk tinged masterpiece 'To Pimp A Butterfly'. Much like his previous two albums 'DAMN' finds Kendrick at the centre of his own semi-autobiographical concept album. 'DAMN' tells the story of his life in reverse, drawing parallels between his imagined early death and upbringing. What's more impressive is the themes of deadly sins and judgement weaved into each song alongside sly jabs at authority figures and hit singles. 'DAMN' is more proof that Kendrick is a G.O.A.T.
Key Track - DNA

7. Pumarosa - The Witch 
While some may lazily lump Pumarosa in with their other guitar based London contemporaries. 'The Witch' is a début that marks Pumarosa as one of the most fascinating and intriguing young British rock bands. 'The Witch' is a heady psychedelic mix of an album that melds 90's britpop, trip-hop, and even hints of space rock together, with, hippy-ish vibes, consistently funky grooves and Isobel's haunting vocals. The tracks on 'The Witch' are all so varied and subtle that its hard to define simply what Pumarosa sound like. When all their influences come together, such as on the trippy, 'priestess' or the brit-poppy 'My gruesome loving friend', this peerless band craft a sound that is completely their own.
Key track - My gruesome loving friend.

8. St Vincent - MASSEDUCTION
10 plus years into career and ST Vincent is still an artist who can't be pinned down. MASSEDUCTION is both her most poignant and emotional album as-well as being her most aggressive. ST Vincent excels at both sexually charged Nine Inch Nails tinged industrial rock as much as she does piano ballads, 'Happy Birthday Johnny' and 'New York' being beautifully melancholy ballads about the loneliness that can come with living in big cities. Her stories are so rich and full of detail that they seem to have come directly from her experience. 'Dancing with a ghost' and 'Slow Disco' are both full of lush orchestral instrumentation. Few artists are able to accomplish as much in a 40 minute album.
Key Track - New York

9. Loyle Carner - Yesterday's Gone
Sometimes being an MC isn't just about money drugs and hoes, sometimes all you need to be is yourself. Not since Mike Skinner has the UK produced a rapper so comfortable just being himself. despite not being from the ghetto Ben Loyle-Carner, has been through a lot from such a young age, from break-ups, his ADHD, Dyslexia, and loss of his Step-Father. All of which makes 'Yesterday's Gone a much more honest and personal record than you'd get from your average rapper. Much of 'Yesterday's Gone' is Loyle's Anglicised take on the Jazz-rap sound popularised by J Cole and Kendrick Lamar with his own hints of gospel and spoken word dialogue. The main reason 'Yesterday's gone appears so high on this list is the spoken word monologue by his own mother on 'Son of Jean'. Jean's description of her 'Scribble of a boy' is a beautiful and genuinely touching moment.
Key track - Mrs C

10. Brockhampton - Saturation 2
Brockhampton blew up in 2017 thanks to 2 excellent full length albums (and a third still to come). following on from their 2016 début 'All American Trash' and Kevin Abstract's masterful solo album 'American Boyfriend'. Brockhampton are a hip hip group (or 'Boy-band' as they insist on being called) packed full of creative and amazingly talented individuals. Both Saturation albums show off an array of creativity. From the left field production, bars that mix the personal, political and hilarious Brockhampton seem unable to put a foot wrong. 'Saturation 2' creeps slightly higher up the list as it refines the sound crafted on 'Saturation' and because it's both musically and lyrically more direct. Every member of Brockhampton stands out, yet it's Kevin Abstract's bars 'about being gay' and Ameer Van's brutal personal history of racism make Brockhampton seem more relevant and vital than almost anyone else in hip-hop.
Key track - Junky

11. Brockhampton - Saturation
12. Enter Shikari - The Spark
13. Japandroids- Near To the Wild Heart of Life
14. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
15. Joey Bada$$- All AmeriKKKan Bada$$
16. Spoon - Hot Thoughts
17. Wolf Alice - Visions of a life
18. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
19. Formation - Look at all the powerful people
20. Courtney Barnett/Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice
21. Ibibio Sound Machine -Uyai
22. LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
23. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Flying Microtonal Banana
24. The XX - I see you
25. Public Service Broadcasting - Every Valley
26. Laura Marling - Semper Femina
27. Paramore - After Laughter
28. Luke Rainsford - I feel at home with you
30. Ghostpoet - Dark Days and Canapes
31. Lowly - Heba
32. Astroid Boys - Broke
33. Mac Demarco- This Old Dog
34. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard/The Mild high Club - Sketches of Brunswick East.
35. Hoops - Routines
36. Perfume Genius - No Shape.
37. Ride - Weather Diaries
38. Idles - Brutalism
39. Kevin Devine - We are Who We've always been
40. The Horrors - V
41. Harry Styles - S/T
42. Everything Everything - A Fever Dream
43. Benjamin Clementine - I tell a fly
44. (Thee) Oh Sees - ORC
45. King Krule - The OOZ
46. Black Mekon - One in the hate.
47. Superfood - Bambino
48. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland
49. Amine - Good For You
50. Dizzee Rascal - Raskit

Note: This list may change slightly before the end of the year.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Wolf Alice, Sunflower Bean and Superfood. Live in Birmingham Review (16/11/17)

I wasn't initially too impressed by Superfood's (7.2) reinvention from Brit-pop aping B-Towner's to Dirty Hit signed sample junkies. Superfood have clearly become one of the most unique and creative indie bands to come from Birmingham or otherwise. Yet I don't think the new songs are quite up to the standards of the older material. Although the crowd that came early for their home-town set don't seem to agree with me. While 'Bambino' is mostly based around samples and laptop beats. The live band that is Superfood is a different beast. Carl Griffin and Emily Baker still tour with the band and their live sound benefits hugely from the drumming of the former. Dom and Ryan may incorporate more sampling into songs such as 'double dutch' but their twin guitars make for a noisier, heavier band. The mosh-pits that ensued show that Superfood have stepped up their game massively.

Sunflower Bean (7.6) are not one for introductions, Nick Kivlen and Julia Cumming ran onto the stage, both simply saying 'Hi' before starting their set. It's not hard to see why they have gained so much hype over the past year. Sunflower Bean look and sound like a music nerds wet dream. Looking like a young Debbie Harry and Bob Dylan in shiny silver jumpsuits and taking cues from a melting pot of sounds. The occasional heavy Sabbath riffs, trippy Tame Impala jams, C86 indie and the many New York bands to break through before them. As Sunflower Bean are keen to remind people, they are from New York city. All the best New York bands soak in the grit, pollution and paranoia of the city in their sound. Unfortunately Sunflower Bean are not one of those bands. Lacking the edginess that made their forebears so appealing. They also lack a unique enough sound to have the same influence as the likes of Television, The Strokes or Parquet Courts*. The best moments are the extended jams when songs such as 'Come On' are stretched far out enough to show that Sunflower Bean are clearly fantastically talented musicians. When they become more than the sum of their influences, they could become something very special.  

There are two sides to Wolf Alice (9.2). Both are best represented by the first two songs of their set and second album 'Visions of a Life'. Heavenward is Wolf Alice at their most beautiful and melancholy. The studio version of the track simply can't contain the beautiful noise the band make live, nor the vocal abilities of Ellie Rowsell. Not since 8 years ago when I saw Florence and the Machine play in the same room have I heard a singer so fantastic at projecting her voice. While Florence has a tendency to over sing, Ellie fills the room with her almost operatic range. The other side of Wolf Alice and Ellie is the gloriously pissed off 'Yuk Foo'. While 'Heavenward' was Ellie sounding virginal and well.. heavenly. 'Yuk Foo' is the sweary, screamy flipside. Ellie's ability to go from one extreme to another marks her out as being one of the great female rock singers.
Wolf Alice also remind me of the old adage that 'less is more' with some of the most creative stage lighting I've seen a band use. For most of the songs they wre bathed in white spotlights, or flooded with red or blue lights. The white lighting was a plus for all the many fans taking photographs on their phones. A mirror-ball shone for the more romantic 'don't delete the kisses' and 'beautifully unconventional'.
Interaction with the audience as kept to a minimum, with Ellie saying that they 'always get the best mosh-pits in brum' and 'we love it here!'. I get the feeling that Wolf Alice were being sincere. The setlist was a mix of the songs from their classic début album and earlier hits. Newer tracks such as 'planet hunter' and 'sadboy' (sadly not dedicated to Lil Peep) may not have the instant mosh pit starting appeal of 'your loves whore' or 'you're a germ' yet they have an eerily subtle quality of their own, that matched the slight chill in the air and natural lighting. After an incendiary 'moaning lisa smile' where Joff tossed his guitar up in the air and looked on the verge of smashing it up. 'Visions of a life' was stretched out and made as loud and heavy as possible. Mixing pastoral elements into their sound, I think it's the modern equivalent of what Led Zeppelin did with their third album. Epic, heavy and oddly folky at the same time. 'Fluffy' pulled things back to their punk roots, and the inevitable encore ended with what is probably the definitive Wolf Alice song 'Giant Peach'. As a sea of fans, jumped, pushed each other and sat on each other shoulders. Believe the hype, Wolf Alice are one of the great British rock bands.



*yeah yeah, I know they're from Texas


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Run the Jewels + Danny Brown Live at the 02 Academy review (14/11/17)

As you might expect from a man who is rumoured to have turned down a spot in D12 because he didn't want to wear baggy jeans Danny Brown (8/10) never does things the easy way. Coming on stage with a mile wide smile, either high on his rapturous applause or whatever he was smoking backstage. Danny warmed up the crowd with 'Die like a Rockstar' before filling the set with deep cuts from his discography. This was made up of his most abrasive, noisy cuts, mixing Arca- like electronics with an almost eski-beat style grime sound. As you might expect from a man who sells his own branded condoms* and rolling papers on his merch table. Danny's lyrics mostly focus on sex and drugs. Yet he's more compelling and likeable than your average rapper, running up and down the stage, spitting bars in his trademark cartoonish style. It wasn't until half way through that we heard anything from last year's breakthrough album 'The Atrocity Exhibition', yet it was worth the wait. 'Lost' had the crowd waving their hands up and down. For 'Aint it funny' the DJ stopped the beat so the crowd could shout the chorus. By the time 'Really Doe' and 'When It Rain' blasted out the speakers Danny had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

Before the show EL-P's twitter feed found him in a reflective mood. Writing about his family history and own struggles with alcoholism. If El-P had been in a sour mood it didn't show. From the moment He and Killer Mike took to the stage under a huge inflatable recreation of the RTJ3 album cover and launched into 'Talk To Me and 'Legend Has It' an ecstatic crowd jumped, surged and waved their gun hands in the air. While RTJ's fans seem to come from all sorts of different backgrounds, it's clear that there are no casual fans. RTJ may make some of the most vital politically charged music of this decade this show was full of positivity. Mostly because of the love EL-P and Killer Mike share for each other. Both MC's were incredibly in sync, finishing each others bars, high five-ing and cracking jokes through the set. Many of the best moments of the show were the interludes where RTJ talked to the crowd. Killer Mike beamed with joy when he saw another father with his son and praised the dad for getting his son into their music. El-P gave a shout out to the 'over 35's on the balcony' saying that if they were at this show they'd be up there with them.
Run The Jewels are a great example of how to put on a show responsibly, asking everyone in the crowd to step back and to 'not put your hands on anyone you don't know'. RTJ have a clear love for their fans, throwing T-shirts into the crowd and catching one thrown at them, and reading the note attached to it.
The only real disappointment was the lack of a Danny Brown cameo for 'Hey Kids', yet RTJ had already delivered so much that it hardly mattered. 'Oh My Darling Don't Cry', 'Call Ticketron', and 'Close your eyes' are all certified bangers, the latter aided by retina blasting strobe-lights. 'After Don't get Captured' El-P hoped he could touch us 'all like I touch myself' with some of his own poetry, which was actually just the opening bars of 'Panther like a Panther'. The most inspiring part of the show was Killer Mike's spoken introduction for 'Down'. Talking openly and honestly about his love for his late mother and the depression that both he and her have struggled with and advising anyone who struggles with depression to seek help and talk to others about it. 'Down' was supposed to be their last song but the inevitable cries of RTJ! led to 'A Christmas Fucking Miracle'. 

9.6/10


*£3 for a condom! fuck that.