Tinchy Stryder – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Friday September 20.
Like Dizzee Rascal before him, the 22-year old East End rapper Tinchy Stryder has made a remarkable journey, from hero of the underground grime scene to fully-fledged pop star. While scenester purists might baulk – as scenester purists always do – at the shameless commercialisation of it all, Stryder’s colourful, hook-heavy, dance-derived new sound demonstrates a keen understanding of pop craftsmanship. And in a year which has seen the UK singles charts rejuvenated and revitalised with some of the most consistently strong pop music in years, he has been responsible for some of its biggest, most memorable, and most defining moments.
With two consecutive chart-topping singles and a Number Two album under his belt, Stryder’s days of playing smaller venues such as the Rescue Rooms, to audiences of just under 500, must be numbered. Uncompromised by the relative intimacy of the surroundings, he claimed the stage like a pop star should, retaining most of his larger-than-life mystique. That said, perhaps the dense clouds of smoke that heralded his entrance were a flourish too far, keeping him virtually invisible for the first ten minutes of his hour-long set.
Combining razor-sharp lyrical flow with a commanding sense of showmanship, Stryder carried his audience with him all the way, even turning the obligatory merchandising plug into a rabble-rousing highlight. But was it really necessary for his DJ to dip the sound quite so often during the three big hits – Take Me Back, Number One and Never Leave You – leaving the crowd to fill in the gaps, and significantly dampening the mood?
A brief rendition of Calvin Harris’s I’m Not Alone drew the biggest reaction of the night, as everyone in the room surged forwards to its monster riff. A similarly chunky, euphoric version of Olive’s You’re Not Alone closed the set, blurring the lines between hip hop and dance to spellbinding effect.