Saturday, 27 March 2010

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip @ Manchester Academy 2, Monday 22nd March, 2010

“Good Evening Vietnam-chester!” is the exclamation from rapper-cum-comedian B. Dolan. It’s hard not to have a guilty chuckle at his solo show, which ranges from a song using Sarah Palin and religion as themes and an angry ode to Marvin Gaye’s fate, to the in-your-face comedy of ‘Fat Man’s Anthem’ (“written after climbing the stairs one time”) and a mock jump, dressed as Evel Knievel, over a front row volunteer. It’s a mixed bag, for sure.

Having earlier missed Sound of Rum, MC Kate Tempest’s impromptu rhyme by the merch stand is a pleasant surprise, if a little muted amidst its surroundings.

It is a similar love for spoken word that drives Scroobius Pip, but he appears caught in contradiction. Launching in with a few heart rate raisers, ‘The Beat That My Heart Skipped’, ‘Sick Tonight’ and ‘The Beat’, Pip is there to entertain as accomplice to Dan’s electronics. Indeed, during the latter he admits to ‘feeling like Chris Martin’ after offering his mic to the audience for a choral sing-a-long.

There are other strings to his lyrical bow, however. Dark tales in ‘Angles’ and ‘Magician’s Assistant’, music satire in ‘Fixed’, ‘Snob’ and ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, and love in ‘Look for the Woman’.

While it occasionally descends into Goldie Lookin’ Chain novelty rap, you get the feeling – certainly with Scroobius Pip – that he sees his role beyond entertaining sweaty adolescents, and more in spreading his incisive spoken word critiques to those who either will or need to take heed. New tracks ‘Get Better’ and ‘Great Britain’ certainly attempt to deliver political lessons beyond their catchy choruses. He even acts the teacher in warning that security workers can be heavy handed with crowd surfers and applauds those who picked up a smaller kid fallen to the floor in the 'pit', but his previous crowd surf is an example of the thin line he walks between role model and hypocrite.

And, although an announcement of running for UK ‘Presidency’ is said tongue-in-cheek, you can see the poet’s calling as eloquently preaching his ideals of improvement to a different audience; one that can legally vote. Or perhaps Dan Le Sac is right; perhaps the TV appearance on Soccer AM has gone to his head.

Words: Ian Pennington
Images: Stephen Hicks

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