Plan B at Brixton Academy
Back after a five-year hiatus with his new album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose, Plan B is moving back in a more soulful direction. The collection of tracks – characterised by softer tones and falsetto crooning – is reminiscent of his breakout hit The Defamation of Strickland Banks, the million-selling record. A new look for a new sound; he appears on a stage a far cry from the rapper of the early 2000s, with silver slicked-back hair, a three-piece suit and a slightly confusing white chinstrap, and immediately breaks into Grateful to cheers from a heavily expectant crowd. Not one for masses of audience interaction, the singer’s performance never lets up as he moves through an impressive repertoire of soulful grooves including Prayin’ and Stranger. At times he appears to slightly overstretch his voice, struggling to make himself heard over the heavy bass.
However, the vocalist’s commitment to the performance builds momentum, and the fans respond. Pumped up by their obvious enthusiasm, the performer begins to actively hype the crowd, and by the time his smash hit She Said comes on, they are eating out of the palm of his hand – dancing like mad, mobile phones aloft. Clearly elated to see the musician after such a long absence, Brixton Academy is packed with supporters who eagerly anticipate every song. Plan B feeds off this energy and as the show moves into edgier realms, the aggression and angst of his earlier music plays out in the performance. Erratically moving around the stage, the London-born artist swears and shouts encouragement to the audience, and makes oblique reference to the political climate before ripping into a combative rendition of Ill Manors, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, white lasers beaming out from the stage while the gig reaches its crescendo.
The show plays like a “Best Of” compilation, revealing the artist’s plethora of musical influences and interests ranging from soul to dance beats, ska and classic rap. Having made his mark, the singer appears to be moving to his own beat. Unlike many musicians, he does not feel a need to completely shed the image and the songs that made him famous, and he begins his encore with an acoustic version of 2010’s Encore. A natural chameleon, actor, director and soul crooner, Plan B refuses to be placed into a box, and that’s exactly what his fans seem to love about him.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit Plan B’s website here.
Watch the video for It’s a War here: