Friday night in Manhattan at the small Highline Ballroom, with its impressive soundsystem and functional, comfy vibe, Dizzee arrived about 10 mins before showtime — my concertgoing companion, the lovely Leyla, spotted him entering, with a posse of two and trademark Cap Back.
Bouncing on stage, with DJ Aaron LaCrate and his backup singer, Dizzee gave props to the proper authorities in an RUN DMC black t-shirt and smoking red-and-black hightop Nikes.
He tore into the trademark high-energy highspeed lyrics of Where’s Da G’s, and the show was heavy on more material from his third album, Math + English, including Bubbles, Wanna Be, GHETTO, and a joyous Flex, which got a number of the ladies doing exactly that.
Dizz’s relation to the crowd was a lot more relaxed and playful than that at his May 08 show, just two months ago at Webster Hall.
Probably cuz the crowd at Highline was
1) a lot more knowledgeable bout his music
2) a lot more British (he shouted out to ‘the Brits’ on several occasions, to massive response from at least 1/2 the crowd)
3) a lot more mixed, in age, race, and style
4) a lot better dancers.
Dizz’s formidable intelligence (c’mon, those lyrics are INSANELY smart) is balanced by is impressive confidence and knowledge of and true respect for his forebears. Midway thru the show, a blistering rendition of his first US hit, Fix Up Look Sharp, got good response, but it was his show closer, Dance with Me, that brought down the house. (He was accompanied on stage for the last two songs by three mysterious eminence grise of rap — old guys, one with massive flash and a fine, fine, silver skull-headed cane. Wish I knew more! any IDs from the more knowledgeable are welcome.)
Was a privilege to hear what has topped the British charts for the last 5 weeks, cuz Dance with Me is Dizzee’s mega hit — it got the girls flexing, the bodies bumping, and the Brits cheering.
The crowds don’t show up in NYC for Dizzee like they should – but we’re lucky to get him in small venues. We’d never get near him in Britain!