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REVIEW: Grime has changed, but 2016 Lethal Bizzle tour still had London’s KOKO “Shutdown” (video)

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Written by Zen Terrelonge

With the London portion of his #22Tour held at KOKO in Camden, Lethal Bizzle was already off to a good start in my eyes as the venue is one of my favourites.

Held on Friday 29th April, I spent most of the afternoon in the pub with a friend before the evening’s event kicked off. It would have been rude not to, given it was a bank holiday weekend.

After the customary warm-up acts, Lethal took to the stage at about 8.30pm, injecting even more energy into the already hyped crowd.

Lethal B 22 Tour.png

Liveliness aside, what was immediately apparent about the audience was the age. The tickets had a guidance age of 14+ on them, and clearly teenagers took full advantage of that as the overwhelmingly dominant demographic in the building, making my friend and I (late twenties) feel sufficiently out of place.

And that’s interesting. Because Lethal has been around since we ourselves were teenagers, listening to his early material before we could even drive.

Indeed, to put a finer point on it, I remember buying the More Fire Crew CV album down Hackney Market, which is a mere memory that has now been replaced with Westfield Stratford and an assortment of Olympic facilities.

Although Lethal’s original listeners shouldn’t be far off his own age (31), there was sea of baby-faced revellers around, some of whom had backpacks – which begs the question of whether they came from school or if it was a fashion statement.

All of this gave the night an unwelcome under 18s quality, particularly as the event ended at 10pm sharp – though admittedly it was nice not to run for the last train or endure a night bus. Well played, Bizz.

Lethal Bizzle 22Tour

That’s the only thing that can be faulted, however. Seeing the Pow mastermind live has been on my to-do list for some time now, so it was amazing to finally watch him do his thing.

Admittedly, much of Lethal’s music today isn’t truly grime, but more dance, which may have afforded him such a young fan base – though he didn’t forget his roots. Classic bangers like Oi were performed alongside the More Fire Crew partners in crime, Ozzie B and Neeko.

And while his musical direction today may have changed, it’s no less rowdy and electrifying than his older material, which saw the crowd go wild in a sensational fit of mosh pitting madness throughout.

On the whole there was an animosity-free environment, and calm was only called for on one occasion, prompting a would-be brawl to dissipate quickly.

Lethal showcased what his years of hard work in the industry have amounted to by pulling out what would make for an enviable LinkedIn contact base with special guest after special guest.

Grime stars JME, Skepta, Chipmunk, Stormzy and Wretch 32 all made surprise appearances throughout the night, while Afrobeats artist Fuse ODG also joined the proceedings to support a mass collaboration for the grand finale.

Those of you who know about funky will even be pleased to hear that Kyla even came out to join Lethal on stage to perform Do You Mind – the song that inspired Drake’s new single One Dance – catch the original below.

Skepta’s Shutdown was blasted out to send the crowd into a frenzy, while the mood changed yet again with Wretch’s Don’t Go offering yet more variation and a bit of peace – presumably to let everyone recapture their breath and cool down before the tempo was whacked up to 100 again.

All in all, the night was a great way to merge the old grime scene with the new one, complete with a festival-style buzz to remember – unless you’re my friend who was left slightly worse for wear after one too many…

Night out meme

But don’t take my word for it, I spoke to a few of Lethal’s other punters at the end of the event to gauge their thoughts on the night.

If grime isn’t your thing, or you fancy something different from your musical library, take a look at my breakdown of April’s Hans Zimmer Live Tour.

Check out the videos from Lethal Bizzle below.