Gig Review by Zak Edwards with Photography by Bianca Barrett

The problem with your curfew gigs is that you never know what time to rock up. Is the main act gonna be on at 9 bells as normal or are they going to do their thing to ensure they are back in their jammies for the latest episode of Gogglebox? It’s a conundrum I tell you…

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Often this means getting to the gig unfashionably early and having to sit (well stand) through a number of sub standard support acts. However, every now and again, you catch an absolute belter. Last night at the Institute in Brum, was one such occasion…

On first sight it was just a fella on stage in shorts and t-shirt. Evidently he’d missed the Christmas Jumper memo. Having de-misted my glasses – caused by the transition from arctic to a climate slightly more temperate – it became evident that this was none other than Wolverhampton’s very own S-X. Boom!

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Predominantly known for producing the likes of Childish Gambino and Skepta as well as a host of other Rap and Grime artists, it seems he’s moving from producer to singer and based on this performance, with some validation.

Armed solely with a laptop and his excellent falsetto he treated the largely unsuspecting crowd to his small but awesome set of bass heavy, lyrically excellent hip hop tunes including his stand out hit to date, ‘Plans’. Taking time out to talk about mental health and even treating the crowd to an acapella rendition prompted from “that time when my laptop fell of the chair” it’s obvious that the mildly spoken man from the Black Country is very talented and certainly one to watch out for in the future.

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“Lily, Lily, Lily Fucking Allen” was the chant which went up a little after 9 to the obvious rapture of the excitable crowd. Donning a beautiful sparkly green dress and sporting flowing golden locks, the singer reciprocated the excitement, with opener ‘Come on Then’ from her latest album ‘No Shame’, it was gonna be a party.

A quick fire opener from the likeable songstress ensued and things ‘properly went off’ with the early introduction of ‘LDN’. Splendid.

“Is it Friday?” enquired Allen. “Let’s fucking have it then!” as she galloped through hit after hit. Not perturbed by a ‘slight cough’ and supported by regular glugs of chloraseptic, her voice was as angelic as we’ve come to expect over the years and her eclectic repertoire of song choice, sumptuous.

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Having seen Lily Allen on a number of occasions over the years, what I like is that she’s stayed true to herself. Her music reflects her obvious Intelligence, and her willingness to lay her self bare and expose her vulnerabilities through her songs, is not only brave, but admirable in today’s world of overzealous judgement by the myriad of keyboard warriors.

She also maintains her cheeky chappy persona that she’s courted since she first came to prominence in 2009 with belters like ‘Smile’ and the ode to her younger brother ‘Alfie’.

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Nowhere is this paradox between the two sides of the singer more evident, than when she delivers biopic renditions of the extremely personal ‘Apples’ and ‘Three’. Both tunes give an in depth look at her personal life and then in the next breathe she’s got the twinkle in her eye as she’s questioning the effectiveness of her tit tape. Delectable Lily Allen.

Her songs also give evidence that she has her finger on the pulse of the current ‘social consciousness’ and always has had. ‘The Fear’, written before the advent of Instagram and the ridiculous rise to prominence of ‘social influencers’ like the Kardashians paints a stark revelation of what was to come, and has since transpired, and ‘Fuck You’ written about then POTUS George W Bush, seems even more prevalent with the current incumbent of the the White House.

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An excellent night of musical entertainment was had by all and it was the perfect precursor to the festive season. There’s a handful of gigs left in Manchester and London on the current tour and if there’s any chance you can get a ticket you really should. You won’t be disappointed.

SET LIST: Come on Then / Waste / LDN / My One / What You Waiting For? / Knock Em Out / Lost My Mind / Smile / Party Line / Deep End (Lykke Li Cover) / Pushing Up Daisies / Three / Everything to Feel Something / The Fear / Higher / Family Man / Who’d Have Known / Not Fair ENCORE: Apples / Trigger Bang / Fuck You

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