The Moon Club feels like the queue for a Ryanair flight. It’s rammed, bursting at the seams with a mass of sweaty, excitable people. There’s a lovely buzz; Rapper Skunkadelic and his DJ are warming up the Moon nicely as it waits for the self-proclaimed Black Shakespeare, Akala. This is, perhaps, the perfect setting. Psychedelic graffiti covers the walls, the stage is close enough to touch, and the bar serves beer in cans. A drum kit takes precedence over the DJ decks, later waging war on the pathetic, laptop-conceived grooves of modern rap music. “Wagwarnn Cardiff City you dunnnnoooo”, Akala ejaculates, and is received with a storm of applause and gesticulations. His first song is loud, fast, energetic. He towers above the audience, perched on his feedback monitor like an eagle on a cliff top, tearing each rhyme to shreds with blinding skill and clarity. Akala is a poet. He doesn’t substitute every other word with swearing. His lyrics stray from sexism and weed, instead focusing on politics and racial oppression. While this is a prominent theme throughout, credit has to go to Akala and his drummer for their joint musical talent. They are gladiators of rhythm and this stage is their Colosseum. Akala’s performance reaches its climax in the penultimate number, in which he spits improvised lyrics. He takes themes suggested by members of the audience, notably Dragons and Wednesday’s Bin Collection, and warps them into the freshest, tightest example of clean-cut lyricism. It’s quite spectacular to watch. His intelligence is obvious, cleverly portrayed through his alter ego Pompous Peterson, where he satirically attacks the stereotype of corrupt politicians and bankers. The Thieves’ Banquet is drawn to a swift and powerful conclusion. Akala’s stagecraft is rivaled only by the exceptional performance of his drummer. They’re setting the moon on fire.
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