Friday, July 13, 2007

Quick Review: UK Unplugged

The hustle and bustle, eclectic food diversity and assorted smells of culture-rich Brick Lane that preluded UK Unplugged seemed to heighten the expectation. Outside the venue lingered the usual suspects, guestlist craving "celebs", the “Bro, do you like hip hop?” army and a shallow pocket dry lipped guy – on the phone to his pals declaring... "Bruv, its £10 to get in you know!!!" Once padded down, found on the list and side-stepping another opportunity to buy mixtapes the dance was finally reached.

The humidity hit me on the face harder than John Prescott’s finest uppercut and maximum capacity was far from. My suspicious mind had me thinking the staff at 93 Feet East were pumping in hot air from Basra to force people to frog march to the bar but apparently three million degrees centigrade was standard temperature.

The stage was artist free as the DJ sifted Movement-biased grime tracks to the waiting few, in amongst them stood Keisha White, Sway, Marcie and Hyper, Lady Ny, No Lay, Stanza, Little D and many more. BBC 1Xtra DJ’s Ace & Invisible and Twin B – the hosts for the evening – soon took to the stage. After introducing themselves and the band UKSP, they informed why we were all there… “To celebrate UK talent, unplugged.”

Unplugged? I noticed the mics, guitars, Apple Powerbook AND the keyboard had leads coming from them, unless those wires had candy floss at the end instead of plugs Alessandro Volta, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison would have been turning in their graves from the lies. However, UK it was. And Scorcher made his way from backstage.

Scorch was on-point, spitting fire from the off. The first track of his solid set was Sandpit. UKSP made his Leader of the New School intro sound like it could break the rictor scale at Wembley stadium as the live adaptation impressed with every strum. The lyrics seemed to match the rock-esque drum lead rendition and it was the perfect way to kick off the night. Sincere found his way onto the stage and the growing crowd were treated to a D Double E-less version of Reppin London. Scorcher thanked his cousin for passing through and continued. Then the best part came, “I’m not gonna cry, I’m not gonna cry,” the East Londoner confessed as he spoke of how the next track was for his little sister. We were slowly introduced to the intense Keep On Moving. Penning the track whilst on short holiday courtesy of Her Majesty the Queen he emotionally spat the thought provoking lyrics, very big. After the set, Ace then introduced who was next up with, “Many artists actually learned from his mixtape” and the cheer let us know who was up next, Wretch 32.

A camouflage-clad Wretch seemed to be inside an alcohol-lined panic room, only on stage, but his performance was soaked up by the now full 93 Feet East. Dressed in Dessert Storm fatigues – later to unveil a “Rep Your Hood” King Apparel tee – he let loose hits from Learn From My Mixtape. Starting with Can’t Say Sorry the office favourite exceeded expectations in between swings from his nearby bottle of Champagne. The reaction increased with each track and by the time he unleashed Who Am I everyone was hooked (especially No Lay, who seemed to be the biggest his fan, spouting every word). Joined by his sister on other hits including Punctuation (which also smashed it) there was equal amount of love for Teacher’s Training Day too. Big big set, just don’t play with his p’s!!!

Bashy – sporting red Skrilla Gorilla hoodie – had his time to shine after the UKSP filled intermission. Tales from the Chupa Chups mixtape were performed and the live editions of Where I’m From and Pryin’ were massive only to be surpassed by his version of The Streets’ Blinded by the Lights titled My Nightmare. A good end to the night saw Bashy hand out mixtapes and Wretch join him for another “unplugged” riddim. Very good.

The only let down to the TROUBLE FREE night was the Ghetto no show, apparently he didn’t get his music to the band in time. Shame as that would have added another 2.5 marks to the review. (Giving it a 6 out of 5)