Kano brings his gospel grime to Yorkshire and proves he still, well and truly, has it locked from London to Leeds.
“When we first sat down about this album, I wanted the music to be the narrative more so than the lyrics” explains Kano in his ‘Hoodies All Summer Documentary’. The East Londoner’s autobiographical LP explores sonics that nurtured his musical identity, which encompasses genres like dancehall, hip-hop and U.K. garage. It topped the 2019 album of the year lists for many publications and it only takes one listen to see why.
Filled with meticulous melodies and veracious verses, the record’s fluency is surprising considering how well it translated into a live set accompanied by bangers from his last 4 projects. Kano came to Leeds off the back of a sold out gig at Newham’s Leisure Centre - a rather biblical venue for (real name) Kane Robinson, who frequently refers to the place in his lyrics.
Preferring live instrumentation to the emcee and DJ convention of grime, Robinson’s gigs have become almost spiritual for those who adore his music. As the strings of ‘Free Years Later’ began to quiver from the speakers, silhouettes of the choir and musicians spread across the stage - before a hooded Kano appeared from the smoke to deliver his dexterous first verse.
Fans stood in awe of K for the first 10 minutes, indulging in his abrasive vocal delivery and spitting the bars back to him with equal conviction. ‘Ps and Qs’ followed ’Trouble’. Naturally, mosh pits formulated and gun fingers flew through the air, synchronously with the introduction of the devilish baseline. Of course the bar: “And I’ve got it locked from London to Leeds” whipped the audience into a frenzy, whilst Kano prowled from one side of the stage to the other.
The orchestra’s mobility matched the effervescing energy of Kane, who had the excitement of a 15 year old. His passion for music is undeniable. Whereas many rappers mooch across the set in an attempt to embody a braggadocios bravado, Robinson is humbling and engages with individual members of the crowd who share his excitement.
Everyone was there for Kano last Wednesday; no one in the audience appeared to have been dragged to the Academy by their partner. Word for word, fans ranging from 15 to 40 years old preached his lyrics with the same faith. The emcees trade mark metaphors are evidently admired by every generation of grime fanatic.
'Pan-Fried' and 'Can't Hold We Down' were two more hits from the album that translated well into a live scenario. There was still time for the Bow born artists classics: 'Endz', 'T-Shirt Weather', 'My Sound' and 'This Is England' from Made In The Manor. Class Of Déja, undoubtedly one of grime's biggest heaters last year', finished off proceeding in a frenetic manor, turning Leeds into the grimey pirate radio setting the song so naturally composes.
With an encore of 'Garage Skank Freestyle' and '3 Wheels Up', Kano's fearless setlist embodied every aspect of his music, carefully delegating sections of the show to different styles. The rapper left leads in a state of disarray, unless you have already seen Robinson's live set, you could not possibly be underwhelmed by the performance. Catch him headlining Boomtown and South West 4 this summer.