MOBO Awards Tour @ HMV Institute, 22nd February 2012

MOBO Awards Tour @ HMV Institute, 22nd February 2012

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The MOBO Tour 2012 is set to travel to eight cities across the UK, offering audiences the opportunity to see some of 2012’s freshest, emerging talent on stage. I was lucky enough to witness this talent in Birmingham’s not so full HMV Institute.

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Lady Leshurr waltzed on stage with her typically high speed lyrical delivery (faster than Nicki Minaj anyway.) MC Melesha O Garro was in her prime tonight which probably had something to do with the MOBO Tour kicking off in her hometown. New track “Lego” showcased O Garro’s talent and Melesha’s rendition of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” set the place on fire. The UK hasn’t seen anyone like Lady Leshurr in a while just names that didn’t stick like Lady Sovereign so unsurprisingly Leshurr is being herald as the UK’s answer to Nicki Minaj. The female Busta Rhymes provided a great show tonight with her double time flows and catchy beats and bassy rhythm. Melesha has the ability to go far in the grime scene. Her Youtube and mix tape days are over as Melesha is getting the recognition she deserves.

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Now it was time for Josh Osho, the 20 year old from South London strolled on stage with his acoustic guitarist and acoustic bassist and performed some impressive tracks. “Redemption Days” was catchy while “Ebenezer Hotel” spoke about “Dancing with the devil.” The atmosphere ruined the set a little as people continued to talk through each act but that didn’t stop him nor did the microphone that stopped working right at the end of the set. After hearing Josh live his voice is remarkable and strikes a notable resemblance with Seal and John Legend. And what makes his voice so exciting is that Osho is only 20 years old. The set didn’t really need anything else, one of the best acts of the night. A unique talent has been discovered and I hope the well written songs keep coming.

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Yasmin was next up joining the tour on only three of the eight dates . Yasmin, like most R&B female singers in the last decade has a good singing voice but there is nothing special about her songs. “Finish Line” had good backing music (as it was produced by Labyrinth) but the melody sounded like Busted Year 3000. There is nothing original about Yasmin it seems but she did interact with the crowd well tonight. It’s because of this lack of originality that the 23 year old is constantly collaborating with people like Jodie Connor does. She has the voice and the charisma to be a star but it appears not the ability to write a decent song. Yasmin did get repetitive, she could of done with one of the rappers to join her on stage.

Clement Marfo and The Frontline have been announced by MTV as the first of their “Brand New for 2012” ones to look out for this year. Other recipients have included Tinie Tempah and Adele in the past so Clement and The Frontline must have something exciting to offer. There are seven of them altogether each with a different talent. The sound tonight was a turbulent mixture of rave, rock and hip hop. Clement rapped over the keyboard and guitar chords while escalating towards the powerful choruses.

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Each song was catchy and different. The group who claim to be inspired by Jay Z and Annie Lennox are a rock band with a rapper, this combination goes well together and Marfo is a talented rapper. Some might say that the two merged together creates grime music for indies but they offer more than that with a fusion of very different styles. They must have a loyal fan base (or just received the biggest cheer because they were the best act on stage tonight.) Charismatic Clement led the band and it seems like the band have contributed to his success as a rapper. Nothing really stands out with Clement’s rapping ability and without his band he would just be a Tinie Tempah before “Pass Out” was released. Nevertheless Clement and The Frontline stole the show, my highlight of the evening, the group as a whole brought so much more to the evening. “Champion” livened up the evening and so did a well rounded performance of “Mayhem.” The Frontline could easily hold their own at a bigger venue, that’s what they need, they have bags of talent and energy on stage and sound as good live as they do recorded. Hopefully that’s where there heading.

The thing that got me with the night was the light show. There wasn’t really a light show until the grand finale, but still the night was coming to a close, the lights dimmed, the DJ swapped and out came Youngman and the light show. I was expecting big things from Youngman so I was quite excited after the amount of talent I’d previewed tonight. But there wasn’t really anything special about Youngman, his dubstep beats were appealing but his low demeanor put a bit of a downer on the night. Youngman should have started the show in my opinion and Clement and The Frontline should have finished it. By the time Youngman was on stage they were literally 10 people left so it didn’t really matter anyway but even for those 10 people Youngman was making it hard for people to get into it.

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Poised as “the female Katy B” Youngman sang over beats produced by Benga and Skream that sounded like they didn’t need singing over. I was beginning to wonder if Youngman was finishing the show because he was talented or commercially well known. Maybe Youngman needs someone else to write his songs for him, look at Craig David for instance, with a good beat maker maybe Youngman could make it as an R&B Star. Youngman is doing everything in Craig’s footsteps, he is slowly but surely grasping his way out of the underground scene and making it commercially. My advice, write a pop song see where that gets you, Youngman. The talent was there but it’s the songs that matter. “I warned ya” was alright and so was “Who Knows” but in my opinion not a worthy end to the show.

All in all a great night with lots of fresh talent and a healthy vibe, I hope to see one or two of the acts make in big this year, cough (Clement and The Frontline.)

Review – John Kirby
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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