Lethal Bizzle, Islington Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

This year, grime rapper Lethal Bizzle has probably done more motorway miles than a travelling sales rep, following support slots on UK tours with Jack Penate, Gallows, and finally, The Enemy, as part of the NME's Rock'n'Roll Riot tour.

The 24-year-old from east London has spent 2007 growing his appeal by reaching out to indie, pop and hard-rock fans through these tours, his second LP Back to Bizznizz (featuring Kate Nash and Babyshambles), and his Glastonbury debut with Pete Doherty and Kate Moss.

After Tim "Big Dawg" Westwood ups the warm-up ante with grime and hip-hop anthems, Bizzle's opener "Uh Oh" has the mostly teenage audience bouncing. "Oi", the 2002 top 10 garage track that introduced Lethal B as part of Mo Fire Crew in the wake of So Solid Crew, follows, and Mo Fire Crew's Ozzie B comes on for the football-style chorus: "Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy! Oi! Oi! Oi!"

A taut, spiky guitar replaces thundering bass in Bizzle's grime-punk reworking of The Ruts' "Babylon's Burning the Ghetto", though its barbed nuances about politicians are lost in the cacophony.

It sums up Bizzle live: in grime he's a hype man, raising energy levels through a combination of his scatter-gun, rat-a-tat rap style, and hyperactive aura. Relentless touring has honed his crowd-working skills, and tonight, arms aloft, he looks like a conductor directing his fans to jump.

The mosh pit hardly needs stoking, but the DJ introduces dubstep anthem "Benga & Coki's Nite", wreaking further dance-floor havoc. Again, the detail in Bizzle's cover of The Clash's "Police on My Back", transformed into a laugh-a-verse tale of stealing cars and legging it from the police, is incidental.

"Fire", with its sample from Motown's "The Spinners" or Monie Love's "It's a Shame", depending on your age, offers momentary respite, before a tumultuous climax with "Bizzle, Bizzle" ("What's my name? Bizzle! Bizzle!"). The encore is Bizzle's biggest hit so far: "POW" reached No 11 in Christmas 2004 and is still the definitive UK street anthem of this decade.

There's no Nash, Doherty, Gallows, Enemy or Penate tonight; it's Bizzle's moment in the spotlight. His music has lost grime's traditional moodiness, making it accessible and fun without compromising its attitude and spirit.

And his masterplan of extending his fanbase appears to be working the audience tonight is made up of hoodie-sporting urban music fans, skinny jeans and Converse-wearing indie-kids and garish nu-ravers.

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