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Little Simz, EartH review - bossing it | reviews, news & interviews

Little Simz, EartH review - bossing it

Little Simz, EartH review - bossing it

Rapper comes home to massive, well-deserved welcome

Does no one smoke any more? Little Simz asks for lighters up in the air and gets phones© Tamiym Cader

Little Simz exits through the ladies. It's telling, since her set at EartH is the capstone to a tour that, by her own admission, has left her rinsed, broken friendships, torn her away from her family and led her to question her career. And yet, as she wends past the women in the queue that snakes down the corridor, who whoop and thank her for the show, she's obviously buzzing. 

And rightly so. From start to finish, the show drips energy. Opening with a growling roll of bassy thunder, she almost breaks the sound system when she bursts on set with Boss. Her entrance alone lends credence to her claim that you “haven't seen a show til you see me live”. If that weren’t enough, she raps it through a loudspeaker. Dressed all in white and heckling the crowd to get as pumped as she is, Little Simz is in control from the off. Or in her words, “a Boss in a fucking dress”.

It feels like a true homecoming. God Bless Mary, a homage for her long-suffering neighbour who put up with the sounds of her speakers and bedroom sessions beating through the wall, gets laughs of recognition. For those who don't know the backstory, she fills in the history. It's typical of Little Simz too in its contradictions: her apology and thankfulness turn into an anthem of a magnitude louder than her practice could ever have been — not least when she's got everyone roaring "God bless Mary!" 

Little Simz © Tamiym CaderThe set is mainly tracks from her newest album, Grey Area, with some older numbers mixed in. Her bill from 2016's Stillness in Wonderland (One in Rotation, Bad to the Bone) are songs she admits to being “really proud of". She sings them close to her heart, with feeling and vulnerability. Other tracks which also take a contemplative tone feel slightly flat in comparison. Her feels nervously tight, as if she's worried about letting emotion through. Sherbet Sunset has a touch of the mechanical until the end when Simz picks up a guitar and closes with eerie, disillusioned plucking. It's as if touring has meant certain parts have grown skin and other bits been rubbed rawer. She’s not one to dissemble.

But these are small criticisms. Tight, squared-off tracks like Selfish and Offence are propulsive big-hitters. Pressure drops hard with quick-fire spitting and arena-style lighting. Live keys and a raw rendition made electric by music somewhere between warped western ditty and alien synth lends Venom particular edge. Flowers loosens into a jazzed jam led by drums that suggests Little Simz’s looser, more conceptual side — which might well be due a come back.

But the stand-out hit is 101FM. It pulls the teenage soundscape of video games, trashy radio and the lives of friends and loved ones into its playful, cheeky and knowingly nostalgic orbit. In building its myth it’s got slick drive and heart, a combination not shared by all the tracks, and which hopefully will be the jump point for more. After all: “We're loving it, you're loving it.”

Tight, squared-off tracks like Selfish and Offence are propulsive big-hitters

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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