Kano, Concorde 2, Brighton | reviews, news & interviews
Kano, Concorde 2, Brighton
Kano, Concorde 2, Brighton
Grime scene stalwart greeted like a homecoming hero
Grime is having an ongoing moment. The current profiles of Skepta, Wretch 32, Stormzy, Novelist and others make this very clear. There at the beginning, along with Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, was Kano, as his new album Made in the Manor reminds us, harking back with bittersweet nostalgia to the scene’s earliest days as if they were decades ago. Brighton’s tight-knit urban hip hip hop community loves him for it and they’re out in force at the Concorde 2 tonight, representing as loudly and energetically as possible. The bullish ardour with which they greet him is something to behold. Whoops, “braaaps”, and air-pumping hand-signs accompany relentless chants of his name, his song titles and his lyrics.
When he fires out the chorus to a new one, “This is England”, over an atypical but ebullient old funk sample – “Back when Lethal Bizzle was Lethal B/This is how we used to done the dance in the East” – it’s as if the whole room has been swept back on the sands of time to when they all spat verses alongside Ghetts and young Kane Robinson in early ‘00s Newham, over where old Essex crashes into the dinghy, gritty outer suburbs of the capital. Perhaps wishing this were the case is what generates the dense sense of urgency in the venue.
Kano, a cheerful, rather than moody presence, prowls the stage, clad in a black tee-shirt and hoodie in front of a simple banner with his name and new album title. His only nod to showbiz is a set of eye-watering strobe-strips either side and above. His brother Lee, AKA DJ Chopper, provides the music from a basic DJ set-up behind him. It ranges from the ragga-flavoured causticness of “Flow of the Year” to the dubstep bass whoomph of multiple tracks to the pared back minimalism of “Drinking in the West End”. The latter is one of the many that showcases Kano as a lyrical technician. He occasionally slows things down and flows poetic but often, it’s simply impossible to hear him. It's noisy as a football terrace, but with added moshing and nodding, side-to-side, foot-to-foot jog-dancing.
For this reason Kano doesn’t need to work that hard. The crowd’s on-side and, joyful at the reaction to his first gig of a tour, he surfs it. They even know all the words to his new album, although it only came out a fortnight back. When he hits the recent single “3 Wheel-Ups” the reaction is deranged and the song has three rewinds. But the pitch is wild all the way through, even when the sound cuts out for a couple of minutes at one point.
The whole place reeks of testosterone and skunk weed, which isn't that appealing. Women are very much in the minority. Indeed, when Kano asks for the ladies to scream the sound is pathetic. This staunchly, strutting uber-male aspect is an aquired taste, but then hip hop – UK or US - has always had a lot of that, and there’s no denying that Kano has held onto his grime roots where others have wandered, or that his fans love him for it. Thus, when he delivers the encore knockout blow of his debut single “P's and Q's” and last year’s scene tribute “Garage Skank” he leaves his loudly devoted south coast fan base thoroughly sated.
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