Kano isn’t the first voice you hear throughout the rapper’s sundowner set at All Points East. Instead, it’s the full, lush harmonies of gospel which quieten a stressed crowd. The 5 singers have backed the rapper’s exhibits for a while now, lending his music a definite high quality, one thing denser and extra layered. Something to sink your enamel into. Most memorably tonight, their ethereal voices chime in excellent unison as they inform tens of 1000’s of festival-goers to “suck your mum” in the lyrics to Kano’s hit tune “SYM”.
Throughout his hour-long set, Kano swaggers. Dressed in a navy blue Gucci tracksuit, the rapper bounces gleefully from one foot to the different as he works his means round the stage. One hand on the mic and the different slicing by means of the air like bodily markers of punctuation: a collection of metaphorical exclamation marks and full stops emphasising his lyrical ability. Other instances, the swagger manifests as a stillness as a substitute. Kano seems to be so safe in his stature that he can afford to strip away the braggadocio when it isn’t required.
The set-list principally includes tracks from his acclaimed 2019 album Hoodies All Summer. Alongside its bonafide bangers, it’s additionally an album wealthy in the form of contemplative, gentle tracks that aren’t so simply translatable in such a big, open house. Here in Victoria Park, Kano’s extra delicate and technical qualities – that had been spotlighted by the crisp camerawork and intimate entry afforded by Glastonbury’s latest livestream – are in peril of being drowned out by an simply distracted crowd and their cover of cigarette smoke.
It’s plain then, that it’s these bonafide bangers which might be rewarded with the larger response. The similar impact could possibly be witnessed at different All Points units, the place Jamie XX’s “I Know There’s Gonna Be” and Little Simz’s “Boss” whip up the greatest hype. At Kano, the crowd’s adoration is rarely extra intensely felt than throughout the efficiency of his early rapid-fire, gut-punch hit “P’s and Q’s”. We’re all word-perfect as we holler the 2005 observe’s refrain again to the rapper on stage. Even these unfamiliar with Kano decide up on the cues quickly sufficient.
Alongside the gospel singers, horn and string sections have develop into fixtures in a Kano dwell efficiency. Where different musicians select to relegate their band to some unseen, make-shift orchestra pit, Kano’s instrumental workforce stand proudly entrance and centre with the important man himself. The stage’s massive screens dole out equal digital camera time between the grime MC and his supporting artists, or as he later refers to them: “The real g’s”. Their onstage presence is matched by the energy of their efficiency. Although they might fall below the class of “backing”, they really feel like the blood and soul of a few of these songs. In specific, the horns roam expertly between Kano’s beats, magnifying and punctuating them in dazzling, carnival model.
Besides the band and singers, there’s some pageantry too. The aforementioned Gucci tracksuit is zipped away to disclose a second outfit (additionally Gucci), and lights flash neon inexperienced and surprising orange behind the rapper. But for the most half, Kano takes a minimalist method to manufacturing. As ever, it’s his circulation that turns into the focus of consideration: an engine that redlines throughout the whole set. His lyrics, packed with references to East London, additionally discover a pure viewers right here.
When there may be extra manufacturing, it’s completed with objective. Kano’s observe “Trouble” – a piano-led tune chronicling the ills of residing in an on a regular basis warfare zone – is interrupted halfway as a video of a Black boy stabbed on display grips the viewers as a substitute. Blood slowly swimming pools round him till the screens run an ominous shade of pink. Meanwhile, the conflicted patriotism of “This Is England” is visually hit residence by pictures of the Marcus Rashford mural in Withington, plastered with 1000’s of post-it notes. Although illegible to the crowd at this distance, we all know what they are saying: messages of affection and assist for a footballer who was focused with racist abuse in the wake of England’s Euro 2020 loss to Italy.
Since his 2005 debut Home Sweet Home, Kano has developed a popularity for development. Every considered one of his albums has been met with reward for the rapper’s ever-growing skillset and his reluctance to develop into complacent as a grasp of only one model. It appears the similar is true of his method to dwell performances. As proven at All Points East, they proceed to mark him as considered one of the nation’s most fun acts.