Tinie Tempah, O2 Arena, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Wednesday 09 November 2011
I heard people close to Tinie Tempah talk passionately about how his appeal and personal qualities were part of a Britain that went beyond race, long before he had really broken through. The 22,000 around me at his first arena show are that universal audience, united in thrilling fervour as he's crowned a pop king.
Just in front of me, a young girl is winding to a flying V guitar solo on stage, while a mildly leery lad teaches a primary school-age girl here with her dad polite street gestures.
Dizzee Rascal made the first bold move into a landscape where British underground music – grime, dubstep, rap – could be remodelled as brazen mainstream pop. The music press who had always tacitly refused him cover stories because of the perceived truism that black faces cost sales were left with egg on theirs.
Tinie has forced Dizzee's bridgehead into a full-scale invasion on all fronts, becoming one of Britain's biggest international pop stars, when before his career began that would have seemed impossible.
"I started eating salad," Tinie jokes, of his preparations once his manager dared him to book the 02. Then his personal Jack Daniels shot-roadie appears so he can toast the moment, proud but not vain. He has obviously visualised it for some time, tipping out the stadium-show toybox. "These are the best days of our lives, whether we know it or not," he says before "Written in the Stars", reinforcing his optimism with fireworks and lasers. His band rise and sink in hydraulic cages, the guitarist parodies heavy metal moves, and "Snap" is loaded with equally cheesy 1980s-style synths. "From Miami 2 Ibiza" sees him supposedly satellite-link with Swedish House Mafia for some pounding club music, during which he gets the whole stadium to crouch then jump up, a children's game giving general pleasure.
A mid-set break for power ballads is a stadium staple too far, puncturing the crowd's energy. Tinie's magpie enthusiasm for the mainstream also leaves much of his music superficial. But it is a big sound, and he has a big heart.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Pixie Geldof signs recording deal with Stranger Records
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd