Dizzee Rascal @ Birmingham Academy – 17th October 2009

Dizzee Rascal, Birmingham o2 Academy

By the time I arrived at the Academy, the sell-out crowd was packed in and DJ Semtex had whipped everyone up into an excited, fizzing mass. Semtex laid the charges, but it was Dizzee Rascal who blew the place apart.

Dizzee Rascal, Birmingham o2 Academy

A constantly moving, effervescent bundle of playfully aggressive activity, Dizzee bounded from one side of the stage to the others, hammering out quickfire rhymes over warping bass and hard drums. He blasted through the first few songs in no time at all – Money, Money, Road Rage and Can’t Tek No More hurried past – as if in a hurry to get to the crowd-pleasers.

Of the opening salvo, Road Rage (a likely future single) made the place reverberate to cacophonous bass strong enough to test the venue’s soundsystem – it just about held, but it was a good job this gig wasn’t taking place at the old Academy.

Dizzee Rascal, Birmingham o2 Academy

Flex, aimed squarely at the ladies in the crowd, was the first of the hits played and brought a huge cheer of recognition. Freaky Freaky followed but was a bit lacklustre – it’s a long way from being his best track, but perhaps the Rascal’s energy was starting to flag at this point. Either way, the slower-paced Chillin’ wiv da Man Dem gave a little respite.

It was needed for what was to come – a blast of KRS-One’s Sounds Of Da Police introduced Sirens and the crowd leapt off their feet as one – energy levels shooting back up and threatening to take the ceiling off. Dizzee then turned ringmaster, orchestrating a shouting match between different sides of the audience before a heavy Fix Up, Look Sharp.

Dizzee Rascal, Birmingham o2 Academy

An interlude followed, with Dizzee and his hype man leaving Semtex to run though a few hits – including Kanye’s Stronger and Jay-Z’s Encore – before Dizzee was called back to the stage, wearing a fresh T-shirt. Given the amount of work he was putting in, a pitstop and change of clothes seemed fair enough.

The second half of the show was packed with hits, building to the inevitable peak. A thrilling Jus A Rascal – abrupt rhythms all sinew and muscle – and a lyrically toned-down Old Skool paved the way for the newer pop hits to close the show.

Dizzee Rascal, Birmingham o2 AcademyDizzee Rascal, Birmingham o2 Academy

Dirtee Cash had the crowd singing along and Stand Up Tall had everyone bouncing, setting up the evening up for the chart-bothering triumvirate. Dance Wiv Me’s cheeky pop bubbled along and Holiday twisted to a trancey conclusion.

Bonkers finished off the evening – the year’s defining crowd-pleaser performed by a consummate crowd-pleaser. The first beat sparked anticipation for that bassline, the balcony seats emptied in a rush and people pushed towards the stage. Any number of things could have put that dumb grin on my face – it wasn’t just that song though – it was the joy of seeing a performer near the top of his game putting so much work into entertaining his audience.

Review – Chris Unitt
Photos – Chris Barber

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1 thought on “Dizzee Rascal @ Birmingham Academy – 17th October 2009

  1. Freaking amazing gig, when i got started the dj was naff, the two supports were okay but dizzee did fully kill off THE whole evening.

    Ace review yet again!

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