News 4 December 2016
Author: Trudy Barry

Skepta’s Ally Pally show was an unapologetic affirmation of grime

Author Trudy Barry
4 December 2016

If you look online, you won’t find many reviews of Skepta’s sold out Alexandra Palace on mainstream publications, despite its high profile. Why is that? Since being announced earlier this year, the show was sold as the defining moment for grime; the historic moment when Skepta took on the world. You would think in that case that reviews would be abundant the following day, but the internet has been strangely silent.

Despite rumours of Skepta’s overseas family making appearances – Drake, A$AP Mob, Yung Thug – the special guests featured were British. This didn’t feel like a coincidence, instead a very conscious move on Skepta’s part to feature and focus on purely British, old school grime. The show was being live streamed across the world to millions of people and instead of letting himself be overshadowed by big name US guests, Skep kept the night firmly rooted.

This doesn’t mean that the guests weren’t incredible. A plethora of scene definers graced the stage. Jme (who everyone knew would be there) was the first to appear for his incredible verse on “That’s Not Me”. The Adenuga brothers then left the stage so Wretch 32 could come and perform his track “Liberation” solo. The night continued with this format, the greats of grime performing their bangers with Konnichiwa tracks sprinkled in between like a thread connecting every artist in the genre.

After playing the track he was most excited for – “It Ain’t Safe” – Skepta ducked again to make room for the Landlord himself. The stage glowed pink with the now iconic neon lettering, and Giggs rolled in to perform “Whipping Excursion” (complete with a reload). He was then joined by Jme for “Man Don’t Care”. By this point everyone in the crowd was covered in beer and high off life.

Imagine then, the euphoria when straight after that classic combo, Giggs was then joined by Kano for a somehow even more hyped than usual rendition of “Three Wheel-Ups”.

The list goes on: Novelist, D Double E, all of BBK for “Detox”, Lethal Bizzle and Section Boyz all made appearances throughout the night.

One of few reviews since the event came from The Telegraph and claimed the night felt like “a party the crowd weren’t invited to”. Here’s the thing: they’re right, but that was the point. Skepta’s whole spiel is that he’s cut from a different cloth. He’s the man that won the Mercury prize with no label, that made an iconic music video for only £80, that’s obsessed with Japan and rosé wine. The secret to Skep’s success is that he’s alien to us.

As someone who was amongst the 10,000 strong army of fans I can confirm what The Telegraph is saying. Throughout the 75 minute set there was never a point when I felt aligned with the man on stage, rather in awe of him. The night was the historic event everyone knew it would be but perhaps not for the reasons we expected. It was the camaraderie of the crowd and general love for the scene that made the night so special. For the first time in my life I voluntarily entered a mosh pit with no fear, towards the end of the night when I began to get emotional another fan put his arm around my shoulder in solidarity. And as Skepta stood on that burning car, arms high and defiant glare in his eyes, one thing was clear: We were never invited to join him, we came to witness him.

You can watch the full Ally Pally show right now on Apple Music.