Words by Rowan Lees
Akala made his long awaited return to Cardiff after last year’s succesful Clwb Ifor Bach gig, bringing with him a host of impressive support acts.
Proceedings began with Deacon (whose interview with Quench you can read here) who gave a commanding performance on the tricky first slot of the night. We heard the brooding debut ‘No Evil’ and the crowd fully warmed up after the raucous ‘Freedom’ from his soon-coming EP. He persevered through the breaking of a microphone cable, expertly holding the crowd’s attention while it was fixed, and later revealed too that he’d been persevering through a deadly buckfast hangover.
Stepping to the stage in a well cut, beige tan suit, and turning up the heat in The Globe was Denzel Himself. On stage with only a mic and a laptop, he skipped between his self produced bangers, only stopping to express his sincere gratitude to the early arrivers at the show. The music itself could be best described as a masterclass in tasteful distortion, the magnetic sound of the bass and drums bringing heads to a bop. Despite this, you couldn’t help but feel that it all would have sounded a little better, a lot louder. Although with the fans gained on this long tour and prolific, auteur like production of new material, it surely won’t be long until Denzel is headlining shows, Himself.
Akala’s performance felt at times more like theatrical performance than a gig. The set was based around his most recent multimedia release Visions, the first (or maybe second according to a fan in Glasgow) rap EP to come with a comic book. Leaping out on stage to the backdrop of the first chapter’s comic book style video, jaws begun to drop and excitement reached its peak. Even when dropping into old hits like ‘Dat Boy Akala’, the man himself maintained a thespian temperament and held the crowd in waiting for his every move. At a venue named the Globe, and the day before the Bard’s very birthday, hits like ‘Shakespeare’, rather ironically kept the crowd from sitting back to enjoy the show as theatre and instead put the crowd in a spin, spilling tins of Red Stripe all over each other.
Even reaching the end of the show, every line of the night was performed with a clinical precision that matched the music videos of a younger, “rougher around the edges” Akala playing on screen. Never losing the talent that brought him fame, it’s clear Akala has kept his tongue sharp for tour and hopefully for new projects to come. There were no mentions of new music however, the jaw dropping ‘Visions’ being on display, rather he promoted his new ‘Civilisations’ documentary premiering this Saturday on the ‘raasclart BBC’. How many rappers do you know who can do that?