Successful balance of mainstream and grit
Professor Green - Live At O2 Academy, Brixton

Professor Green attracted quite the cross-section of people on the last night of his ‘At Your Inconvenience Tour’. The O2 Academy, Brixton, was packed with tracksuit-clad teenage boys; perfectly primped girls in their early twenties in addition to an older generation of audience members, all keen for the Hackney-bred boy to appear.

Following an audience sing-along of ‘Ray Charles’ led by Chiddy Bang during his opening set, we were treated to some party tracks from DJ IQ and Felix Billionaire who filled their ten-minute warm-up with guaranteed crowd pleasers like DMX’s ‘Lose My Mind’, Jay-Z & Kanye West’s ‘Ni**as In Paris’ and Azealia Banks’ ‘212’, the latter of which, the crowd devoured.

The calculated build-up eventually culminated with a dramatic curtain drop, revealing a full band, sun-bright lights and finally, Professor Green. Dressed in a fire engine red jacket, Green leaned into the tempered performance of a showman who had done this before and was pacing himself through familiar tracks such as ‘At Your Inconvenience’ and ‘Oh My God’.

As the band moved into ‘D.P.M.O’, Green’s swagger shifted into a higher gear and he was visibly energized by the beat and proceeded to bounce around stage with more freedom and share some tour diary anecdotes: “I fucked up my ankle in Leicester, I scratched myself up Blackpool and had to get a tetanus shot. Quiet down darling,” he politely told a young girl near the front of the stage, “they’re trying to listen to me.”

After playing the INXS sampled ‘I Need You Tonight’ and vocal-heavy ‘Remedy’ Green rounded up friends and tour comrades onto centre stage for a joint Jack Daniel’s toast to the last night of tour. It was an unquestionable party atmosphere for Green and his flawless band, which featured two very impressive backing vocalists.

The calming chords of ‘Astronaut’ prompted the upper circle to sit down as the lights twinkled and Green performed with a nostalgic quality – he worked the room with confidence and rapped with the performance of an intelligent man who is successfully balancing mainstream accessibility and the required grit of his chosen genre.

Not one to be selfish, Green highlighted his collaborators and shared the spotlight with vocal powerhouse, Haydon during ‘Forever Falling’ before launching into ‘How Many Moons’ with the explosive Dream McLean who stepped on the stage with the ferocity of a hurricane.

After disappearing backstage in order to reappear for the requisite encore, Green served dessert in the form of ‘Jungle’ and his first number-one single ‘Read All About It’ before spitting twelve bars of a new track, which referenced Simon Cowell, weddings and IOUs.

As he launched into ‘Goodnight’, Green, ever the bad boy, told a girl in the crowd to get back on her boyfriend’s shoulders even though security was visibly disagreeing with him. A savvy professional to the end, Professor Green emerged as a talented man with great skill and a keen awareness of where he sits in the mind of his audiences.

Words by Natalie Reiss

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