Tinchy Stryder, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Tinchy's not yet into his stride
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The Independent Culture

Popular wisdom would have it that getting a number-one single is no longer the big deal it once was. With music being consumed in several different ways, it has been generally accepted that whereas once the Top 40 was eagerly awaited by so many, now it has lost much of its relevance to the tastes of the nation.

Yet, sitting waiting for the arrival of Tinchy Stryder – a man with two number one singles to his name – it does not seem quite like that, and judging by the screaming coming from the mainly teenage audience, you would be forgiven for thinking that his hits have turned him into the hottest pop star around.

The 22-year-old is the latest to emerge from the grime scene, which has most notably produced Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, and tonight could be seen as a celebration of the next generation – female MC Mz Bratt is followed by Bashy, who receives an impressive level of adulation considering he is not even the main support.

Going down similarly well is Chipmunk, who won the Best UK Newcomer award at last year's Mobos. Tipped to go on and do great things by, among others, Tim Westwood, the Tottenham MC seems to spend almost as much talking to the audience as performing any music, and leaves the crowd utterly charmed.

One thing you cannot say Tinchy Stryder lacks is self-confidence, or showmanship for that matter. Before his set, just in case the hysteria levels had not quite peaked, a huge curtain bearing his image is hung in front of the stage, and when he is revealed Stryder – backed by lights spelling his name – can barely be seen for smoke.

He clearly has no problem selling himself as a star. After just a few songs, including the infectious "Stryderman", he disappears off-stage in a rather odd move that makes the show lose momentum, and when he returns he is wearing the same T-shirt but in a different colour. The T-shirt in question has the slogan "Star in the Hood", the title of his 2007 debut album as well as the name of his clothing brand which – judging by the numbers in the crowd displaying it – is pretty successful.

In terms of the music, the young crowd are here for the hits, and they get their first one with "Take Me Back", but they are clearly not as interested in the less pop-friendly songs such as "Tryna Be Me", preferring the sing-along moments.

The biggest of these comes with "Never Leave You", and the appearance of Sugababe Amelle Berrabah. She receives a great reception, and her impressive live vocals really add to the song. If anything, it shows up "Number One" – the first song of the encore – for the absence of Dappy from N-Dubz, with whom the song is a collaboration, and despite the crowd's efforts to sing along, it never quite takes off as would be expected.

Stryder finishes with his next attempt on the charts, "You're Not Alone". Featuring a sample of the Nineties dance song of the same name by Olive, it offers no surprises, which is the problem with his poppier songs. Dizzee Rascal may tread a similar path, with recent numbers ones including "Bonkers" and "Dance wiv Me" certainly lacking some of the danger of the highlights of his debut LP, Boy in da Corner, but he seems to have struck a balance between popularity and credibility. This may be something that Stryder struggles more with, although try telling his adoring fans that he is anything other than a bona fide pop star.

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