Gig Review + Photography by John Dent

Tonight sees Run The Jewels in Birmingham, and back in the UK for the second time as part of the Run The World tour.

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Supporting them tonight is Danny Brown, a rapper once described by MTV as “one of rap’s most unique figures in recent memory”. I reckon that might be common knowledge too as the main room at the O2 Academy is already packed ready for him, he bounds onto the stage with a level of energy that he keeps for the whole of his forty five minute set, a man of few words, he rattles through track after track and the room feels well and truly warmed up by the end of it, and given the chance I reckon that the crowd would have had him stay for a whole lot longer.

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Danny Brown (Run the Jewels Support)-1001

After a quick stage turnaround, Its time for RTJ and you can feel the anticipation in the atmosphere, the hip hop duo are coming to the end of their world tour with just two more nights remaining after this, and they have somewhat of a reputation for kick ass live shows. The set list tonight is heavy with tracks from their latest album RTJ 3 but is no problem as its such a strong and well received album that everyone is glad to hear it.

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They walk onto stage and start the set with “Talk to Me” The crowd are onboard from the off with the RTJ fist and gun sign in the air bouncing right across the venue. For me, these guys have absolutely nailed their niche in the hip hop world, slightly alternative and slightly old school in their sound yet at the same time bang up to date. The energy that they bring to the room is ridiculously infectious, they look like a couple of kids in a sweet shop up there and its clear that this guys are at the top of their game and loving what they do. Having a few great albums is one thing but being able to convert that into a great live show is something else all together, and its the way they interact and engage with the room that made this such a great gig for me. from the T-shirts being thrown into the crowd to the conversation with a father near the front who had come to the gig with his son about who had dragged who there to the RTJ gig rules of, pick each other up in the pit, and keep your hands to yourself…

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There were moments of seriousness with Killer Mike telling us how depression had affected him and how the death of his mother had affected him on the first UK leg of the tour, but it was all bound together with positivity, asking us to look out for each other and telling us how happy they were to be back and that it was an honour to be back in Birmingham.

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Just as the set nears its end and after finishing off with the whole room going nuts to “Down”, the duo disappear off stage and then reappear shortly after to the chants of “RTJ RTJ RTJ” from the crowd, where El-P laughs off the whole encore act, they finish with “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” along with red and green festive lighting (We will forgive them for the fact its still November).

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Tonight was a true masterclass into how a hip hop gig should be, It was all about the music and positivity, RTJ were super tight and so engaging, you could feel the love and respect from them for everyone in the room. The crowd were on point and came in right on cue when they needed too, all in all, an awesome gig. If you get a chance to see these guys in future, grab it with both hands.

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Setlist: Talk to Me / Legend Has It / Call Ticketron / Blockbuster Night Part 1 / Oh My Darling Don’t Cry / 36” Gold Chain / Stay Gold / Don’t Get Captured / Panther Like a Panther / Nobody Speak / Pew Pew Pew / Close Your Eyes / Hey Kids / Sea Legs / A Report to the Shareholders / Thursday in the Danger Room / Down Encore: A Christmas Fucking Miracle

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