slowthai proves he's the Prince of Northampton at Birmingham gig
Phil Moore reviews slowthai at the O2 Institute in Birmingham
Tyron Frampton, AKA slowthai, is the 24-year-old rapper from Lings in Northampton and he’s the breakout star of a rap scene that's overloaded with talent.
Of mixed Barbadian and Irish descent, his gritty and politicised version of hip-hop has quickly become a hit, with punk and grime fanatics alike connecting with his sound and message, not to mention his Brexit Bandit persona.
This is his second headline tour and crucially his first since Doorman took over the airwaves and propelled him into the wider consciousness.
A near capacity crowd at the Institute in Birmingham were hyped for Ty, with help from support act Jeshi and the tour DJ.
By the time he appeared onstage he was immediately full of that Jack Nicholson-esque maniacal energy that has made his music and face instantly recognisable.
He was joined throughout by his topless, balaclava-clad DJ and hype man (and his regular producer) Kwesi Darko, whose looming presence was itself a magnetic force.
At the Institute, slowthai played a game of three halves.
The opening salvo was an intense mix some of his best known tunes including Polaroid, Drug Dealer, Peace Of Mind and Rainbow and its exhilarating blast of beats.
“I need it from your heart Birmingham,” he implored and he got the reaction he requested in spades. Mosh pits were aggressively encouraged and fans complied.
After Ladies, he tried his first crowd interaction, pulling out an inflatable dinghy to crowdsurf.
Sadly it doesn't work too well - it’s hard, after all, to hold a 6ft man up when you’ve always got a mobile phone in your palm.
It was laughed off brilliantly, fortunately, as the crowd clearly had an affinity with him, even though most were seeing him for the first time.
Tonight’s middle section was a mix of the deeper tracks from EPs and his early singles, mixed in with some new tunes from his forthcoming debut album Nothing Great About Britain which is out on May 17.
There’s nothing to hide here, no topic is off limit. Mayday is “a song about ketamine”.
In North Nights, a ShoeTown-referencing older track, he slates the prime minister - “Theresa May wanna be like Branson” – while also laying out his local issues with friends and enemies, cabs and the cold nights.
He also brought out Birmingham rapper JaeKae and the two worked through his big hit from 2017, Moscow. Inevitably the crowd went wild.
There was a moment during Gorgeous - where it played simply the recording of this new track, giving him a chance to get close and personal with the front row - that you wondered if he’s got enough material yet to truly pin the audience into submission.
However, he finished with a one-two that had everyone moshing hard.
T N Biscuits elicited a huge roar and the finale of Doorman almost raised the foundations of this hallowed building - an anthem to disenfranchised youth if ever there was one.
It was a special moment for everyone to head home to and if he can produce more of those moments on the album then the world is his for the taking.
On Wednesday night slowthai (importantly: no space, no caps) showed us what he’s got - charisma, talent and desire.
He laid it down for all to see - his anger is his energy. All hail slowthai, the Prince of Northampton.
Peace Of Mind
Why You Wet
Moscow [with JaeKae]
T N Biscuits
* The show took place on March 27. Visit www.slowthai.com for details of future tour dates.