Don’t ask Skepta if Grime is having a resurgence. In a recent interview with Timeout London, the Tottenham MC made his thoughts on that statement pretty clear.
“People who think grime is back are sheep that follow the media. People who aren’t sheep know Grime never went away.”
It’s in venues like the underground, sweaty depths of Store Street where it’s obvious that, resurgence or not, this may be the strongest the scene has been in years.
Playing his first gig since taking home the Mercury Award last month, Skepta, rapping alongside some of the biggest MCs in the game, played a bruising set full of songs from the award winning Konnichiwa while also finding time to squeeze in some extra surprises for fans to go mad for.
Any fans of UK hip hop and Grime would know they were in for a treat merely from glancing at the line-up. Frisco, Giggs and DJ Maximum were sure to do more than warm the crowd up for Skepta’s headline slot at 3 in the morning.
But calling Frisco a support act for Skepta simply wouldn’t do justice to the sheer energy he brought to the stage. Making his way through hit after hit, the MC eventually brought on another BBK member – Shorty – for an energetically nostalgic rendition of Too Many Man, an early BBK hit that shot the crew into the mainstream back in 2009.
Similarly, Giggs’ set balanced known bangers like Man Don’t Care, his collaboration with brother to Skepta JME, with material from new album Landlord.
The bass lines of tunes like Whippin Excursion and the addictive hook to The Blowback made for a violently fun gig where there was hardly a person in the crowd not getting into the music.
By this point the crowd were more than ready for Skepta to take to the stage. It was late into the night but there was no chance of the electric atmosphere in the Warehouse fading for this one.
The accompanying light show, a red matrix of letters spelling out the words ‘Skepta’ set the scene for what was to come.
As soon as the opening melody to album title track Konnichiwa played, the start of what was to be a raucous hour or so was signalled.
Swaggering onto the stage in trademark black trackies and sporting an Akubra hat, there was an unnervingly calm air about Skepta’s arrival.
The calm was shattered as Skepta went in on his first lines ‘By now you should know I hate waiting, I got no patience’, sending the crowd into another frenzy.
“Where the energy crew at?” was the question the London rapper asked the packed-out Store Street crowd.
As he jumped from song to song, it became clear that the energy crew was out in force. Crime Riddim was delivered with the punchiness that a song about police violence deserved, and bouncy Pharrell collaboration Numbers was also performed brilliantly.
There were even inclusions from Skepta’s 2012 album, Blacklisted, that was a welcome look back to the days just before his meteoric rise over the last two years that has led to Konnichiwa.
NO PATIENCE: Skepta thrilled Store Street fans from the start with a rousing Saturday show
Grime fans on Twitter would have been excited to see Wiley’s announcement that he would also be coming to Store Street from a gig in Birmingham, and he did not disappoint either.
Taking to the stage for Corn on the Curb, the cameo made a great addition to what had already been a stunning display of the significance and power of UK grime, and was certainly a talking point for many fans walking out of the venue.
And that’s all without mentioning the set’s finale, wildly popular Shutdown, followed by a rendition of Man that saw Skepta bring out his entire entourage, including Frisco, Shorty and Wiley to put the curtain down on an absolutely mad night in Manchester.
Leaving the stage, Skepta thanked his fans and left the stage with the crowd satisfied.
If there’s one thing that anyone could take from Saturday’s Warehouse Project, it’s that if there’s any genre that speaks to youth culture the most pertinently today, it’s Grime.
The feeling in the crowd, from the manic mosh pits to the rousing chants, was the closest I have ever felt to the intense feeling of a punk rock show.
It’s in the rhetoric like Skepta’s where this rebellious spirit lives on in 2016, and if Saturday was anything to go by, it won’t be silenced anytime soon.
Images courtesy of Jody Hartley, with thanks.