One must approach a DOOM show with a level of apprehension. After all, Daniel Dumile’s reputation as a live artist has been marred over the years by a string of no-shows, last minute demands on organisers and imposters sent to perform in his famous metal mask. Even his only previous Dublin appearance was somewhat soured by lateness, broken visuals and an odd prop DJ who stood behind a set a decks for the entire set, but never once touched them.
Tonight’s show in the Button Factory (the same venue he played in two years ago) is not without its problems either. First off, the show was billed as a JJ DOOM piece, with DOOM’s latest collaborator, producer Jneiro Jarel, due to play a short opening set before joining his new partner for the main event. But the JJ of JJ DOOM is nowhere to be seen, leaving the latter to play solo without explanation. This is a major let down as the duo’s recently released album ‘Keys to the Kuffs’ has been much lauded, and tonight’s set list won’t contain a single one of its tracks.
Taking the crowd by surprise (possibly by actually being on time) DOOM ambles onto stage just seconds after a suppressed attempt by his hype man to ignite the room. In the flesh he’s quite a sight; a behemoth of a man, with a huge round gut underneath his infamous metal mask. With no Jarel (who presumably would have spun some records), DOOM’s instrumentals come from an Apple laptop set up on stage. He clicks play on an iTunes playlist of beats to get things started.
This playlist really does feel like plan B, especially since the set list may very well be identical to the last show DOOM played here. Many of his most popular songs like ‘Hoe Cakes’, ‘Gazzillion Ear’, ‘ALL CAPS’ feature, as he rounds up a stellar selection from his various solo albums, collaborations and alternate egos that feature in his mighty back catalogue. The lack of JJ DOOM tracks is unsatisfactory, but the majority of the crowd don’t seem to notice or don’t seem to care. Splicing out each song’s fat, DOOM hardly stops rapping throughout, his gruff flow eating up beat after beat after beat.
When DOOM does pause for breath, these momentary breaks are spent interacting with the crowd, constantly high fiving those closest to him and even briefly crowd surfing. During one of these interactions, one girl requests to be brought on stage and DOOM adheres, carrying her up himself. Arm around her waist, the star leads the groupie backstage, declaring gleefully: “I hope this isn’t anybody’s girl”. For a minute there is the slight worry he won’t re-emerge. After all, he’s reached the 45 minute mark – the disappointingly short time limit he played last time in Dublin. But seconds later the opening swirls of ‘Change the Beat’ dispel fears, and it’s followed up by the squawky classic ‘Rhymes Like Dimes’ and the chant-able chorus of ‘Benzi Box’. These impressive closing blows just about push this one over the line.
Words by Dean Van Nguyen