Bugzy Malone @ o2 Academy, 26 October 2018

He’s done it all himself, creating his own record label, directing his own videos and most importantly inspiring the Youth from Manchester and beyond. The incontestable “King Of The North” had left the North to promote “B Inspired” a gut wrenching candid display to great critical acclaim. The Job Centre gets a mention along with a fictitious armed robbery and The Stone Roses and Oasis. From mixtape to mixtape the momentum grew and at the ripe old age of 28 Bugzy Malone has abandoned his “Facing Time” days to great commercial success. For those that couldn’t make it here at the O2 Academy Birmingham, just give Bugzy a little follow on Snapchat and you will see what it means to have bags full of Northern Grit!

The major thing that struck me even before Bugzy Malone hit the stage was the amount of NWA and 90’s West Coast classics being played. Bugzy wasn’t lying when he said he had some “serious influences.” From one ex pauper to another Safone dived on stage with a balaclava to deliver “She wants a Man From Brum.” Red mist filled the stage as DJ piper smashed out “ShutDown.” We were getting our fair share of areas, 0161, 0121, and 020 or whatever London Town’s is. But Manny was in the building tonight as a huge screen showed the video to “Done His Dance.” I wondered which version they would show, as YouTube has taken it down 3 times. With plastic guns or not it was like something off “GTA 6.”

One of the standout collaborations of the album “Ordinary People” struck a chord with the FIFA 19 faithful and transpired into a massive singalong to the catchy chorus “Even when we’re broke we’ll always have enough.” The microphones originally sounded rather muted when the set began but I soon discovered it was just the right level, it was like watching Seamus Heaney. The no nonsense uncensored lyrics really made me think of artists like Santan Dave and Akala.  It was nicely followed by “Run” a song that went off in Leeds (as I discovered on Bugzy’s Snap) and tonight was no exception.

It seems in Working class Britain we are crying out for figure heads to champion the poor and even with great commercial success Bugzy is doing that, there were no reloads tonight as it was a really meaningful top quality performance.  “Memory Lane” featured a haunting backdrop of a somber Bugzy and Tom Grennan on the run with a pressing deep house rhythm. It reminded me of “Blinded By Your Grace” Stormzy and nicely led into a track off the new album “Pain” about getting “addicted to the hood” and dealing with “Pychological Pain” by learning to “dance in the rain”

An illuminated red revolver lit up the stage for “Die By The Gun” as Bugzy patrolled the stage with his trademark “holding a shotty” pose. Then “tell the security there’s gonna be some drama” as Bugzy exploded into “Drama”, one of the longer tracks on the new album mostly down to the extra long guitar solo which got the crowd on board for the encore. “Ole” was the chant which Bugzy said his Dublin fans taught him and “Warning” finished the show with a rapturous reception.

Leaving the show I can honestly say I felt inspired.

Reviewer: John Kirby

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