Plan B, Great Suffolk Street Warehouse, London
Tuesday 24 July 2012
“If you don’t believe in something, then you’ll fall for anything,” Plan B snarls on the forlorn “Lost My Way”, and the solemn 28-year-old rapper is big on “belief”. However, we get precious little actual dialogue tonight at this desperately hip album launch, with almost certainly the poshest soap of any venue toilet in London.
Plan B (actual name Ben Drew) is a serious artist, who is very keen on the concept album. His breakthrough second record, The Defamation of Strickland Banks told the story of a wayward soul singer who is wrongly convicted for rape and finds some sort of redemption. It’s a compelling and cinematic record that shows off Plan B’s sweet (but perilously close to Charles & Eddie) soul voice. It also sold over a million records.
The latest slice of concept is Ill Manors, which charts a youngster becoming embroiled in the local drugs trade. On this, Plan B raps about prostitutes on heroin and racist assaults and the record dominates tonight’s fleeting experience, which takes place in a London warehouse reminiscent of Arthur Daley’s lock up.
There’s an awful lot of swaggering, posturing and flashing lights on stage, but Drew doesn’t really feel like the voice of a generation here. Public Enemy’s Chuck D had the good grace to provide a lucid, impassioned preamble before his most incendiary songs, Plan B provides nothing. No explanation. No show. It’s not really a show. And hip-hop music often needs some show.
Unlike fellow rappers and chroniclers of urban life, Mike Skinner and Jamie T, Drew’s tracks also lack wit, which is fine but his “protest” songs need to be exceptionally good to compensate. The highlight tonight is the feverish “Ill Manors” (the same name as Drew’s bleak debut film, which is distractingly screened on a wall throughout the performance), which is a (sort of) protest song (a rare thing in a market dominated by electro-pop and soppy pop) in which the Forest Gate-born singer protests “Oi there’s a chav/ That means council house and violent/ He’s got a hoodie on give him a hug/ On second thoughts don’t wanna get mugged”. It’s by a country mile the most robust track at this estranging gig.
However, there are some memorable guest spots, particularly from the punk poet John Cooper Clarke performing “Pity the Plight of Young Fellows” and Chase and Status’ Takura Tendayi’s brief turn on the exceptional “Drug Dealer”. A fluctuating experience then, much like Plan B’s career thus far, and you suspect the best is yet to come from this hugely talented artist.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Argentina may change its capital city from Buenos Aires, says president
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 The 3D-printed key that can unlock anything
- 5 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
X Factor, ITV, review: Simon Cowell bans sob stories but Cheryl Cole can’t stop crying
Doctor Who, Into the Dalek, review: Classic sci-fi adventure has blockbuster spectacle
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >