It takes a particularly confident band to go on tour with an established rap act like Danny Brown as their support. Even more so given the size of the lighting rig Brown was using and the reaction he generated from the O2 Academy crowd.
Tracks like Die Like A Rockstar, Ain’t It Funny and 25 Bucks created the sort of atmosphere that any headlining act would want to walk out to. With a lesser headliner, Brown could reasonably have been jointly named at the top of the bill.
Fortunately Run of the Jewels aren’t just any other headlining act.
Such a particularly confident band would also emerge to Queen’s We Are The Champions, whilst filming the venue crowd giving one of the loudest welcomes seen in Leeds in 2017. Formed four years earlier, Killer Mike and EI-P create a formidable onstage force, both physically and vocally.
First track Talk to Me hits the Leeds O2 like a rocket, both rappers covering the stage, drinks flying, a thousand people moving as one entity. The first three tracks are all from the latest album release, a DJ adding the background, and by the time Legend Has It and Call Ticketron have finished, the energy bouncing around the place is palpable.
There follows one of a number of RTJ (as they’re known) sermons, this one about picking people who have fallen and there being no fighting. It’s sound advice as the set continues through 36” Chain and Don’t Get Captured, there are possibly entire limbs that require retrieving from the Academy floor.
Few groups combine such brute force, punk rock rap with such comedic lyrics. Admittedly the environment tonight isn’t really conducive to sitting back and appreciating the lyrical prowess but the power and interaction between the two prize fighters, stalking the stage, are more than enough to cope with.
One of RTJ’s more accessible tracks is their appearance on DJ Shadow’s Nobody Speak, and so it proves tonight. Throughout the set the duo are constantly wise cracking, both with the audience and each other, making sure the crowd are safe in-between songs, firing t-shirts into the audience. As hard hitting and confrontational as their music is, it is impossible not to like the two.
Just watching a RTJ set is exhausting, both physically and mentally. By the time Down and A Christmas F****** Miracle bring matters to a halt with all the subtlety of a train crashing into the buffers at full pelt, people look dazed, confused by what just hit them.
What hit them was one of the most enjoyable, uplifting and driven live acts on the circuit today. The energy levels relentless, the euphoria constant, the memory long.