Tinie Tempah – O2 Brixton, London, 16th April 2016

Tinie Tempah - Photo credit Steve Holley
Tinie Tempah – Photo credit Steve Holley

There is quite a lot of rap seeping into country music at the moment. Only the other day I was listening to young country sensation Thomas Rhett’s new offering and Lunchbox Lewis popped up. Rap music at its best has the story telling and home truths of country music and that’s one of the reasons I like it when it’s done as well as Tinie Tempah can do. Tinie has been around for a while now spending the last ten years waxing lyrical over all sorts of different types of back beat and it’s his ability to defy genre with his collaborations that has led to his longevity. I love anything that smashes our perception of genre.

Last Sunday Tinie Tempah sold out the O2 in Brixton, meaning that he had sold out all the major London venues in his career, and it is evident that he is still as popular as ever. In fact the eclectic mix of audience members was one of the big surprises of the night: all ages, all races, all genders and all having the night of their life.

Tinie Tempah - Photo credit Steve Holley
Tinie Tempah – Photo credit Steve Holley

Tinie, born Patrick Okogwu, hails from South London and it is his Peckham roots that made the gig very much feel like a homecoming show. Tinie treated it as a one off spectacular with his constant side kick DJ Charlesy and a wonderful display of lighting, fireworks, video backdrops and lasers. No expense was spared to make the night special.

Tinie kicked proceedings off with, ‘Hitz’, and, ‘Pass out’, telling the capacity crowd he wasn’t going to go easy on them and that he wasn’t going to settle for anything less than 100% enjoyment. He emerged in confident mood wearing all white underneath a multi coloured jacket from behind a cascade of falling pyrotechnics. It wasn’t long before he had whipped the expectant crowd into a jumping air punching frenzy.

The evening was an interesting mix of music and chat from Tinie as he led the crowd on a guided tour of not only his music but what makes him tick as an individual. He had family and friends in the audience and Tinie’s humility and inspirational stories made the large open space of the O2 Brixton suddenly seem much more intimate. Once again, Tinie’s ability to appeal as a personality as well as a performer shone through.

There were songs spanning his ten year career as he sang not only massive hits like, ‘Written In The Stars’, and, ‘Earthquake’, but also early songs like, ‘Wifey’. The vast cultural differences in these songs, moving from a  harder grime sound all the way through to pop, with only Tinie as the common denominator, didn’t seem to worry the audience at all; they were happy to lap up anything Tinie had to offer. It felt like the crowd was made up of real fans singing everything, early or recent, back at their hero.

Tinie Tempah - Photo credit Steve Holley
Tinie Tempah – Photo credit Steve Holley

The only respite was when Tinie disappeared for a probably unnecessary costume change leaving DJ Charlesy, who shared entertaining banter with Tinie all night, to keep things ticking over till the maestro reappeared. When he did it was dressed in all black in an outfit reminiscent of a boxers garb complete with dressing gown to launch into the last barnstorming part of the gig with a fantastic, ‘Frisky’, and a crowd pleasing, ‘Tsunami’, in which he had the entire audience running from side to side with him and Charlesy.  A nightmare for the nervous looking security but a delight for the crowd and something sure to be repeated during this summer’s festival season. I can only imagine the spectacle!

The night started to come to a magnificent close as Katy B took to the stage to sing massive recent hit, ‘Turn The Music Louder’, with Tinie which proved that, for me, Tinie is at his best when he has live collaboration on stage, as he did in places during the night with appearances on stage by MoStack, Big Narstie and JME, as opposed to singing to DJ Charlesy’s recorded backing tracks.

Tinie finished with new single, ‘Girls Like’, which went straight into the massive hit, ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’, before the capacity crowd disappeared into the night. Tinie has been around a while and on this performance he’s going to defy his genre and be around for a while to come. This was a world class tour de force by one of our brightest stars.

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