Live Reviews


Islington Academy

When Carling sat down and decided to put on a New Kings concert, I wonder what exactly went through their heads to come up with a grime/crossover act alongside two indie acts. Maybe their tea boy should stop hiding his stash in the kettle, because it really didn’t compute to me.

Still, free drinks [naturally, I was on the Coke] and ten enthusiastic Kano fans made it all worthwhile. The rest of the audience comprised Magic Numbers and Graham Coxon fans, none of whom seemed at all interested in Mr Robinson who strode on stage to a rather muted sounding Home Sweet Home, spilling his rhymes over the drastic staccato beat telling the crowd “if you don’t know K A, you don’t know”.

P’s & Q’s, arguably the best song on his critically acclaimed [and Abjekt top 5’d] album bounced around before the heaviest of bass lines boomed into the crowd’s ears. Kano grew in stature a little during this song, getting over the apathy in front of him, pacing around talking about his gangster lean and telling us why he makes more Ps than fakers do.

The sirens then blared out across the speakers as he rolled into Ghetto Kid, sparking the set into life. What changed the dynamic of the performance was the appearance of his hype man, Ghetto, who thrashed around on stage as if he were listening to Metallica‘s Kill Em All on invisible headphones, barking out his lines with ferocious style and then hooding up for the guitar led Typical Me, which signalled the increase in volume of the sound system. This was the track that finally got some of the non-Kano fans head’s nodding in time as Kano and Ghetto rode over the chugging guitar with presence and gusto.

The next 3 songs were more radio-friendly and included his well received Streets‘ produced single Nite Nite which saw Ghetto replaced on stage by Leo the Lion, much to the delight of two female fans hanging onto the barriers at the front, not least when they were serenaded by K A himself. Sometimes followed with the young MC rapping about how hard it is for him to understand why he’s the popular one, amongst all the grime MCs around him, but on tonight’s performance it’s easy to see why. When Brown Eyes hit, an upbeat piano sampled song, Kano was in his element and as the camera phones were raised up to his “I don’t wanna fall in love” line, a small smile appeared on his face, recognising he really had arrived.

His final track, my personal favourite on the album, the Diplo produced Reload It, saw Dangermouse and the almost epileptic-sounding Demon crash onto the stage. The watery sample over heavy but uplifting drums caused me to lose control of my muscle control and dance around like a fool amongst the static indie fans. When Kano finished by quoting his t-shirt saying “I can spit like an old school MC, A B C, 1 2 3, float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, you know he really does pack a punch in his delivery and live show.

In all, despite the strange line up, he brought his live set off well after a slowish start. Having MCs around him like Ghetto and Demon certainly helps as they can bring the crowd into a frenzy whilst Kano then mellows them out with his more laid back flow. He certainly was a King of 2005, and 2006 can only get better for the former Chelsea trainee.