Creative, diverse and political Plan B is a true showman

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THERE are moments in life where you just have to let your jaw drop and acknowledge the unexpected has just slapped you across the face.

As music ideas go taking Ben E King’s 1961 hit Stand By Me and Seal’s 1994 song Kiss from a Rose, and Eminem’s Forget About Dre, adding human beatbox Faith SFX and rapper/ soul singer Plan B, is about as out there as you can get.

It should have been terrible – but it was quite the opposite.

Creative, experimental, diverse – or plain just having a laugh Plan B proved to be a showman, not someone who has just turned up to collect their performance fee and belt out the hits that have made them famous.

Perhaps its is that sheer diverse nature that appeals to such a wide audience, that can explain why there were so many in the crowd in their 40s or 50s, not what you would expect to see at a gig for a British rapper happy to sing about smoking weed, sexual encounters, and liberally spraying around the F word and others I can’t print.

I’d gone to this gig having really enjoyed Plan B, or should I call him Ben Drew’s soulful gospel style of singing, intermixed with the occasional rap, as on the album, The Defamation Of Strickland Banks.

I was less keen – and still am on the dischordant Lost My Way after seeing it on TV – the song marks a return to his rapper roots and is from his Ill Manors album. However even though I didn’t enjoy the sound of Lost My Way, I appreciated what its message about youth and broken Britain, a theme tackled face to face and toe to toe in the marvellous piece of political commentary ‘Oi, what you looking at you little rich boy’ Ill Manors.

The band came back on to repeat this for their encore – the track got the greatest reaction from fans, moshing in front of the stage – while Plan B said: “If anyone falls over pick them up yeah. Always mosh responsibly.”

Plan B was inventive throughout – earlier in the evening he mixed thrash rock and reggae into soulful track Praying while he invited the crowd to enjoy karaoke as they opened the lyrics to She Said,

Beatboxer Faith SFX filled the interval, his voice a synthesizer blowing the audience away as he ripped through The Prodigy’s Breath, Blur’s Song 2, Tinie Tempah’s Passout and a mix of other tunes.

He featured heavily in the second part of the show, including the mix of Stand By Me, Kiss By a Rose and Forget About Dre.

It was perhaps no wonder that Plan B’s voice gave out right at the end rap of the penultimate song and perhaps his most commercial hit Always Stay Too Long. The audience forgave him after a fantastic show.

There were also two support acts – NY, who sounded like an up and coming Alesha Dixon and who performed a chilled version of Oasis’ Wonderwall, and Kwabs, a very relaxed soul jazz singer.

Overall a brilliant night.

Mark Beaumont