Wednesday, December 1

Kano Review: Rage, Joy, and Seriously Pre-pandemic Vibes | Kano

FFive singers stand at the edge of the stage, sweet gospel harmonies fill the West London theater. “Suck, suck, suck your mom,” they chant as the crowd hoots and whistles, “Yeah, I said so, suck your mom!”

SYM is a track from Kano’s Mercury-nominated 2019 album Hoodies all summer– just one in which the East Londoner, one of the UK’s most attractive artists, who will perform live tonight for the first time in 18 months, exceeds expectations. “Suck on your mom” is the biggest reflection of teasing on the playground. He cheerfully rubs low culture against high culture, paying homage to the church and the schoolyard.

Kano, however, is bringing disrespect to a deserving system. Dressed in an unusually baggy DMX T-shirt, the grime MC grabs the mic and goes through a shopping list of British Windrush generation failures. A dexterous live drummer and multi-instrumentalist work feverishly to his right as an exalted crowd unleashes 18 months of pent-up emotion in front of him, the vast majority unmasked. Negative lateral flows and vaccine passports were required at the gate, so the fingers were crossed. This concert is in aid of War boy, the charity aimed at alleviating the suffering of innocents in conflict. Ahead of Kano’s set, a spokesperson says War Child has dropped £ 2.5 million in its expected fundraising due to the pandemic. This is the second time this year that this insightful rapper has staged his emotional repertoire for a good cause. The last one was the Glastonbury livestream in June, where Kano practically stole the broadcast with his energy.

His commitment doesn’t waver throughout the night as he gauges anger, joy, humor, shock, and mischief, as well as subtler feelings: disappointment, tooth-sucking outrage. There’s reload after reload tonight, when the track and its response are so fierce they demand a replay.

“Run it again!” scream halfway through a strobe light Pan-fry. His early blast of rapid fire Ps and Qs makes everyone go crazy, twice. 3 wheels up, from the iconic LP of 2016 Done in the handr, is another jubilant “recharge”. The vibe in the moshpit is seriously pre-pandemic.

Kano in Shepherd's Bush Empire.
Kano in Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Photograph: Andy Hall / The Observer

With little new material to showcase, not a review, just an observation, the set is primarily a bonsai, an all-black version of his triumphant 2019 all-white set at the Royal Albert Hall. There are no guests. On the other side of town, another concert is taking place in sorry symbiosis with this one: Gorillaz at the O2 Arena. Kano, a frequent guest on the Gorillaz slopes, he might have been there if he hadn’t been playing his own show.

One vocalist who would have absolutely raised the roof of this venue is, unfortunately, there, beloved Jamaican dancehall star Popcaan. Kano Popcaan Collaboration We can’t hold back However, it is one of the highlights of the night, paying tribute to Kano’s Caribbean roots: everyone sings along with the canned Popcaan hook.

Throughout his last two albums, Kano has been determined to tell a multiplicity of grime stories, those adjacent to the ever-present and necessary street stories: about people who barbecues, people who toast, people who are just people. . On a day when August weather collaborated, his track Weather in the Manor T-shirt – on how nice London can be in the sun – couldn’t be more timely. As the concert spills onto the pavement afterward, a Caribbean oil-drum grill is doing a good deal, perhaps the oldest of the pop-up restaurants.

At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Trouble brings home the randomness of violence. The singers repeat over and over again: “we don’t want problems.”

But, as Kano puts it, trouble finds young black men when they “hit the road,” their mothers desperate for what might happen to their children, or what their children will be forced to do. In the middle of the track, all hell breaks loose: the soundtrack of a stabbing. It could happen anywhere, suddenly, regardless of the weather. Kano demands that you don’t look away.

A key element that absolutely carries over from Kano’s performance at Albert Hall and from the rest of the 2019 tour is the music, and the many fine performers that embody these melodies. A four-strong horn section and a four-strong string section add to the ranks, bringing artistic ambition, island vibes, and a throbbing sense of community.

If the strings are uncomfortably hidden behind the band, the horns roam freely, as they would at the carnival: the tuba playing the bass lines, the trombone screaming the hooks. The rumble is cleaning. Kano’s message, although two years old, is timeless: stop the violence because it “does not make money.” The system is rigged. But as the brass, strings, singers, and percussion fade, Kano smiles: “It’s a new day,” he offers.

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