Little Simz has had a pretty amazing year. Not only was she nominated for the mercury prize, but she starred in the new season of Top Boy as, to the envy of many, Doshain Hill’s love interest. If you aren’t aware of the artistic prowess the Londoner has championed since her musical and theatrical beginnings, then go and listen to her most recent album - ‘Grey Area’. The LP explores a range of sonics, drawing on influences from across the globe and collaborating with some of the world’s most prestigious artists. Jamaica’s Chronixx, Sweden’s Little Dragon and England's very own Michael Kiwanuka to name a few.
It was no surprises to see this tour sold out, but as Simz reminded us throughout the gig, she has very humble beginnings; in 2015 she confessed only 10 people were watching her in Leeds.
It’s always weird going to a gig in your Uni, but Leeds’ Stylus is perfect for live events. With a balcony surrounding the open floor, it’s easy for anyone to see the stage; the only qualms we can have with the space is the inflation of drinking prices, compared to the rest of the union. An Amstel is £2.80 in any other part of the university, but for gigs it sits at a wallet busting £3.80.
This aside, the night was a celebration of Black, British innovation. Not only was Little SImz on the bill, but those who got in early were rewarded with a support set from Flohio. We are gutted to say we didn’t get there in time; this is the second time in a month we have narrowly missed Flo Flo, and it pains us to say we didn’t make her performance. A lack of set times, and a willingness to finish off a four pack of Crown (Sainbury’s finest own brand lager), left us in a state of dismay.
Kicking off with ‘Offence’, Little Simz’ set list was dominated by ‘Grey Area’, but this is unsurprising considering the success it has brought her in 2019. The album is perfect for a live performance, allowing the band to jam out on riff intersections, and illuminate the prowess of her music. Simz herself scurried between several instruments, exhibiting guitar solos, keyboard melodies and beats on bongo drums throughout the hour she was on. ‘Selfish’, ‘Wounds’ and ‘101 FM’ were evident fan favourites, and got the crowd grooving to the different genres these tunes embrace.
There was even time for a cover of Outkast's Ms. Jackson, which sent a sonic wave of cheers throughout the audience. Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night came from 'God Bless Mary'; a classic amongst (real name) Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo's discography. It would have been nice to have more material from 'A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons', or 'Stillness in Wonderland' - time was at a premium unfortunately, and the band poured their heart into the set.
The appearance of Kano at her show in London would, on the surface, make this night seem completely inferior. However, it was evident Little Simz loves Leeds, after every song she showed her gratitude to the fans who looked up in awe of the band's immaculate performance. Grab Grey Area now, it's easily one of the best rap records of the year.