Live review: Plan B, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Academy, London
Friday 30 August 2013
Following an unhappy set warming up for Eminem’s headline slot at Slane Castle, Plan B returns to London in a promotional show to mark the arrival of 4G on O2. The corporate nature of the show is somewhat at odds with the mob-driven grit of "Ill Manors", with which Plan B - real name Ben Drew - made his name as the unlikely conscience of British pop.
As ticket-holders grab their free cocktails and chips, cameras swing overhead as the show is streamed live to big screens across the capital. While the perks of this high-budget affair include a grand stage of towering TV screens and full band, Plan B is caught splitting his attention between plays to the camera and the crowd. And he is unable to swear.
While Drew’s second album, 2010’s "The Defamation of Strickland Banks", re-routed his sound from gritty rap to to dancefloor-friendly pop-soul, most of the songs from "Ill Manors" tonight return to the earthy street wordplay and hip-hop of his debut. It arrives with flashing effects, a jumping hype-crew and movie clips as producer Labrinth is splashed across the tower block screens singing the hooks of Drew’s last single, "Playing With Fire".
Songs like "Drug Dealer" - a ballad about a crack baby turned uncompromising dealer, featuring the reggae intercessions of Zimbabwean vocalist, Takura Tendayi - make it hard for this show to remain light. "Ill Manors" uses rough cut, sample-heavy songs backed by scenes from the film: images of cocaine being cut, prostitution, youths on council estates and beatings. These scenes act more like a documentary than a glorification of Plan B’s perception of modern Britain but his commentary is lost amid a crowd grabbing free drinks and taking pictures.
Drew’s high-speed delivery and lyrical spits propel the show into impassioned bravado. “Where’s the moshpit?” Drew yells at the crowd during "Pieces", his collaboration with Chase and Status in which testosterone-driven drum’n’bass grates against his speeding snarls and guitar riffs.
Drew’s vocals can go from piercing whines to, as on 2006’s "Charmaine", incomprehensible raps. An encore of pop hits "Stay Too Long" and the title track from "Ill Manors" show that Plan B can gel his pop persona with social commentator but as the songs age, it’s more interesting to think about what this rapper-soul singer-actor-director will offer next.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Calum Chambers: Southampton's latest example of Generation X-factor
- 2 Crash victims in car flattened by shipping container emerge with just minor injuries
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 4 Exclusive: David Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Joey Barton and Yossi Benayoun become involved in Twitter row over Israel-Gaza conflict
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains