slowthai brought his ‘Bet Ya a £5er’ tour to Brixton Academy on October 18th and proved exactly why he’s such a singular force to be reckoned.
Going to a gig is becoming an expensive business, with the usual billing at the Academy generally selling at the £30 mark. But slowthai’s show and tour is an exception to the rule – with the Northampton rapper charging just £5 a ticket for his ‘Bet Ya a £5er’ tour.
The extra pocket money mixed with slowthai’s rapid growing in 2019 filled the Academy with anticipation and excitement.
The 24-year-old triumphed with his politically infused Top 10 record Nothing Great About Britain which amassed a dense constellation of critical acclaim and a Mercury Prize shortlisting; his raucous performance broadcast on the show saw him swinging around the effigy of Boris Johnson’s severed head and will no doubt tail his career forevermore.
slowthai slowly builds on the anticipation bubbling as he arrives at ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, a song which manifests in a constant state of tension – echoing the tensions of the current political and economic climate in Britain – relieved only by the opening bars of ‘Drug Dealer’.
“Brixton! I’ve dreamt of this my whole life!” he beams in his wide-eyed grin, taking a moment to absorb his surroundings. The gear really shifts as he offsets the slower, melancholic tones of ‘Toaster’ with the pomposity of ‘GTFOMF’ which unfurls in an explosion of flames and rib-rattling bass as the rapper strips to the waist – something punters will have been expecting based on previous shows.
Despite his tender age, slowthai has come of age in 2019 and this was best shown when he demands the audience to split in two, conducting a back and forth of “fuck you” and “you cunt” between the left and right.
Throughout, there’s an angst bubbling beneath the performance but it’s interspersed with a loving appreciation for his fans – he points to the huge mirrors which line the stage backdrop mid-set. “Do you know why that’s there? It’s there to show something great about Britain – you!”
“Where the fuck is Big Smoke?” he asks after the beginning of ‘Inglourious’ is rewound. Skepta eventually emerges out of a fog storm of dry ice as the howls from the audience reach fever pitch.
The set closes somewhat abruptly on ‘Doorman’, but that is only because there is no more material left. Slowthai is the leading voice of a generation and his Brixton show was a microscope into his potential. It is easy to forget that – despite performing with such confidence – slowthai has only been releasing music officially since 2018. Plotting his next move, slowthai doesn’t say goodbye, instead telling the crowd that he will see them at Ally Pally.