BBC Radio 1 Xtra Live @ Manchester Arena – 11 November 2017

Posted by Gig Junkies on Saturday Nov 11, 2017 Under Grime, Pop, Rap

Gig review by Chadwick Jackson with photography by Frank Ralph.

BBC Radio 1Xtra celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, and tonight comes to Manchester Arena with an amazing line-up featuring Travis Scott, French Montana, J Hus, Bugzy Malone, Ghetts, Stefflon Don, Not3s, Bryson Tiller and a couple of special guests. The event is being hosted by the 1Xtra DJ family featuring Yasmin Evans, Charlie Sloth, DJ Target, and Mista Jam, getting everyone excited for the artist performances.

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Years ago I had the opportunity, quite by mistake, to be part of a meeting which included every major name in West Midlands Grime and Rap,some of who I had grown up with. I was offered tickets and my replying was a sharp yes. Grime at this point was an entity of the underground variety, it is safe to say, Grime/UK Rap or what variation of it you wish to acknowledge as, has arrived, it is now very mainstream.  But it is safe tonight they forget to tell the sound engineer; the audio quality could have been significantly better.

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BBC Radio 1Xtra now in its 15th year and prides itself on giving the best platform to urban musicians, so tonight, with a line up that should have should the strength and resilience of the live music going audience of Britain, I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the gig, I tolerated it. Imagine a near sell-out crowd at the Manchester Arena, the line-up featuring Bryson Tiller from this year’s Summer anthem ‘Wild Thoughts’.

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Local Grime superstar Bugzy Malone, received a warm reception from his home crowd as he dedicated one of his tracks to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombings that was met with riotous applause.  A musician and Mancunian, he proved it was his crowd to toy with when he brought out Tom Brenan to do a rendition of Oasis’s ‘Wonderwall’, which was met with a predictable appreciation from a Manchester crowd.

Steff London’s set was a ball of energy from a crowd that had become very acquainted with her music through our host BBC 1Xtra, but one thing that really sold this concert short was the lack of stage presence but that could be expected. Charlie Sloth walked on stage and invited out Michael Dapaah, blissfully iconic Big Shaq, when you heard “The ting goes skkkk ra papap pap.” There was not a single person in attendance that was not loosing it, this song done justice by the levels of sound engineering that was making the gig very difficult to enjoy, the crowd picked up where the equipment sonically left off.

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We were treated to another surprise appearance by way of French Montana who’s high energy set that sent the crowd into overdrive warmed us up adequately for the headliner, a performance of mammoth summer hit ‘Unforgettable’ was well received by the super pumped audience. In the centre of the arena we were treated to a mosh pit that showed no sign of giving way after letting loose for most of the night.

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Tonight’s headliner Travis Scott would not look out of place at a heavy metal concert, the energy was insane the lyrics were fast and unrelenting and if like me, you were unfamiliar with the work of this emerging force, you were not about to forget him. One of the leaders of the new school rap, Mr Scott took you on a emotionally charge melancholic journey into the highs and lows of being a ‘millennial’, which I was certain was being well received by the audience tuning in both on the radio and live and direct at the Manchester Arena.

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At times like this you truly realise the power of good musicianship, the force of nature that live performance is, and how British society in some place is still a force for bringing people together for unique cultural experiences. 1Xtra is officially now an institution and with an open gate for a diverse line up of British and American Urban talent and long may it continue; the BBC is truly home to a creative and cultural output and a platform where their cultural importance should never be questioned. Here’s to another 15 years.

Catch-up on the highlights from the evening on the BBC website.

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