Things generally don’t travel well across the Pennines from Manchester to Leeds, although Mancunian grime sensation and self-styled ‘King of the North’ Bugzy Malone sought to buck this particular trend, selling out the O2 Academy in support of album B.Inspired.
The album followed years of battling to get his music heard through a series of EP’s before Malone drafted in an impressive roster of guest singers to send the album Top 10. Rag’n’Bone Man, JP Cooper and Maverick Sabre amongst others all lent their support to Malone’s sharp trajectory, unfortunately none made the trip to Yorkshire.
The supporting DJ Ambush built the atmosphere over 90 minutes, rapper SL oddly joining him for only a couple of tracks before disappearing again prior to the main event literally charging out to deliver a set of his lyrically superior brand of rap. The set itself was a tick box exercise of modern grime, the life affirming messages between songs, Malone’s own videos supporting each track, backing tracks filling in the guest singer slots.
Opening with the album title track before blasting through Aggy Wid It and Memory Lane, the set arrived at single Run. Whilst none of the crowd were expecting Rag’n’Bone Man to walk out, it was a shame Malone decided to rely wholly on backing tapes and not share the stage with a singer. Such was the consistent theme, Malone using obvious backing tapes and his own videos throughout the 75-minute set, giving the whole evening a somewhat lethargic feel.
What certainly isn’t lethargic is the artist’s phenomenal use of lyrics. Die by the Gun’s message is self-explanatory and one that fully engaged the young crowd, single Ordinary People creating a similar impact whilst Bruce Wayne had people leaning over the balcony, getting as close to the frenetic action as possible.
The end of the set was disjointed. Malone disappeared off stage prior to the encore so briefly that it wasn’t apparent he had done so, the crowd not given the opportunity to carry out the inevitable screaming for the set to continue. Coming back on to deliver Warning, the hardest hitting track of the evening, the set then somewhat limped to a close with another of the star’s soliloquies.
The crowd filtered out on a high, having witnessed one of the forces of the UK grime scene, seemingly unperturbed by the absence of the evening hitting great heights, such is the star’s presence and ability to deliver his adroit and pointed lyrics right between the eyes.