Music review: Dizzee Rascal, iTunes festival


Following a slick performance from Katy B, Dizzee Rascal takes to the stage at Camden’s Roundhouse as the duo perform one of the most urban shows at this year’s iTunes festival. Tonight, Dizzee Rascal goes straight for the gut with a a nine-track set of synth-heavy, bass-trembling drones taken from his new release, The Fifth, an album packed with guest appearances, including Will.I.Am, Robbie Williams and Jessie J.

Having played the previous night’s iTunes Festival at which Dizzee joined her onstage, Jessie J makes a surprise appearance tonight. She strides on stage like a blonde GI Jane ready to split ears on Rascal’s new single ‘We Don’t Play Around’ and they are certainly an energetic if not odd couple. Chock-full of British pop-swag, they rile the crowd and prepare to launch them into the gratingly addictive, ‘Bassline Junkie’.

As Dizzee embraces the broad and dense EDM sound, he uses every stage gimmick to keep the atmosphere from dipping. He and the MCs, his “brothers from another mother”, that flank his every move are tight and professional but occasionally they lack raw excitement or energy. At times, it seems boring, even to them: the simplicity and repetitiveness of songs like ‘Holiday’ just don’t seem to be a match for Dizzee’s natural talent and Grime roots.

A highlight is 2010’s ‘You’ve Got The Dirty Love’, his extended version of Florence and the Machine’s take on ‘You Got the Love’, interwoven with his rap ‘Dirtee Cash’. It’s still a crowd pleaser that warrants swaying arms and yodels to Florence Welch’s chorus but the constant barrage of special effects are mind-numbingly assaulting  by this point.

Still Dizzee is interminably watchable and the crowd is devoted to him - almightily grinding on ‘Ass Like That’ and mass jumping on hometown dedicated track, ‘Love This Town’. ‘Bonkers’, starting with a congo line and ending with “oggy oggy oggy” undoubtedly has a leery 18-30 club vibe but Dizzee’s quintessentially British cheek seems to make it work to his advantage. Confident, charming and polished, he’s pulled it off tonight.