Ms Dynamite at Ladies Unplugged, Stratford Circus, London

Get ready for a fresh explosion
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The Independent Culture

Ms Dynamite's been MIA until recently, doing tiny gigs around the country to build up momentum for what's expected to be the comeback of 2010, rumoured to be on such a phenomenal scale it'll effectively discount every single faux pas that's dented her career over the last four years, starting with the brick that was 2005's Judgement Days to the assault charge for slapping a PC in 2006, and the reality TV stints which did nothing more than threaten to place her in the realm of urban-pop novelty – although a glance at the urban scene nowadays might suggest that that direction is totally en vogue.

So there's plenty to do in order to restore her former credibility, something which Niomi McLean-Daley, still the ever-respected elder stateswoman of garage, deserving Mercury Award-winner and advocate for the socially-conscious, could do quite effortlessly.

Her appearance at Ladies Unplugged, the eclectic acoustic event in east London held in conjunction with the London Jazz Festival, is both refreshing and reassuring. The industry break hasn't seen her pile on the pounds or lose her neck-swivelling, tomboy cool; she casually strides through her Top 5 hit "Dy-na-mi-tee" with a charismatic poise indicative of a woman who's looking at 30 but knows she's still one of the few great female MCs this country has to offer. Her second song, "Pop Off", is a weighty diatribe against inner-city violence, and as she spits the line "There's only two dead ends when you live by this gun ting", she throws her body around with the ferocious defiance of a scorned dancehall queen, and on cue, the crowd roars in response. "I take it you like that one," she smiles, sweetly.

Her singing is still okayish, but she's more in her zone when she's spitting bars like an F N Minimi and it helps that she doesn't feel she needs to stray too far from the reggae/garage/R&B stylings that first made her famous on the underground. "Booo!" should easily get a re-release off the virtue of her feisty display, and when she wraps up her short set with the bashment-reviving "Bad Gyal", she's brought down the house – which is almost a pity for the lovely Shola Ama, who had to take to the stage after her. But had tonight been Ms Dynamite's solo show, it would have been the moment that confirmed that she's increasingly closer to being re-instated to her former, hyped splendour. Still, this taster might just have done it.

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