It caps an astonishing year for the rapper...

Tonight AJ Tracey is Live and Direct.

If 2019 is fully dedicated to supporting the rapper’s rise to fame and success, it is no surprise that tickets for his two gargantuan shows at the iconic north London venue went in no time.

His first show is a reflection of events, clearly marking a special occasion, it is embedded with innovation, surprise and unique moments. The theme is broadcasting. The BBC launched its first high-definition television broadcast from Wood Green in 1936, the event transformed Alexandra Palace making it one of the oldest TV transmission sites in the world.

Inserting a snippet from the broadcast to use it as introduction to AJ Tracey’s show links the past to the present adding dimension and perspective. But what is more than a novel and eye-catching stage set up also delivers on a multidisciplinary scale and works as a fascinating platform where visuals, effects and technology support the narrative as much as the music, it is an ambitious show placing versatility and variety at the core.

The stage is in the middle of the venue. The show is a vibrant, blazing exhibition of innovation. When the rapper appears on stage the atmosphere is already at adrenaline high, mobile phones are out ready to film and capture all the action. Every crowd member has a view, and the central stage positioning allows the artist to move about.

On fine form, this is punchy and raw performance. The MC really attacks the likes of ‘Necklace’, ‘Jackpot’, ‘Prada Me’ and ‘Fashion Week’ with nuance. It is a blistering first third.

Delving into the middle part of the set, his performance intensifies in force and he continues to impress. “This is the biggest show of my career. I am from London, this is my hometown”, the singer declares before launching into the likes of ‘Rina’, ‘Mina’ and the ‘Wifey Riddem 3’.

This is followed by the arresting ‘Kiss and Tell’ with Skepta, by the look of things, each and every crowd member has forgotten about time and place. With few expenses spared, the high-tech lighting display alternates and flickers with precision during each track showing tongue-in-cheek AJ Tracey adverts for sports products and jewellery.

While there appears to be no moshing, it feels as if there could - and should - have been. Mercury Prize winner Dave comes on stage for ‘Thiago Silva’, it is an exciting and explosive delivery. “Let me see some torches”, AJ Tracey insists.

It is now time for the more intimate guitar track ‘Country Star’. Meanwhile, ‘Psych Out!’ offers a thoroughly choregraphed arrangement, drenched in blue nightlife style light, the more intricate style of performance works.

Next up is the dynamic ‘Butterflies’ featuring Not3s. With ‘Ladbroke Grove' depicting the ultimate climax on the night, it also epitomises a grand finale of sorts, acting as more than just the end of an epic set, it also represents the end to what has proven to be an outstanding year for AJ Tracey as an artist.

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Words: Susan Hansen

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