It’s testament to the hype that I don’t know what the hell’s going on when Kano finally brings this thing to the stage. I’m in Concorde 2 and amid the wrought iron intricacies of the club, shit is going wild. Lights more blinding than a post midnight Macbook connect with my retina and reveal in silhouette the multitude of raised hands.
A roar gathers momentum to greet the scuzzed up riff of Hail, a heavy smack of drums and belly battering bass interpolates this gloriously evil bounce. Kano arrives like he lives here; no-one’s gonna suggest to this guy that this place doesn’t belong to him right now. There’s mass reverberations as the crowd recognise the closing refrain that apes Tempa T’s infamous line “Won’t get none of your CDs back”.
The next tune that gets an airing is a decidedly less aggressive side of Kano, hearkening back to the pop sensibilities of the Method to the Maadness album. This proves that the guy stands in a league of his own – yes he may purport to represent, and to be just as real as the next man(dem) to grab the mic, but he just knows. It’s not just dense, dark vibes with raps about authenticity that Kano’s peddling; he knows his craft – when to apply slow-motion and introduce saccharine flavours to great effect.
After the cooling refreshment of T Shirt Weather though, it’s time to get real. Kano’s flinging out New Banger, so back to the unsanitary, hard beats then; it’s really hammered home with the nod to the kings of dirt, The Prodigy, in its sampling choice. This is the opening night of Kano’s UK tour for “Made in the Manor” and it shows; he feels fresh and revived; with renewed audacity he takes up the entirety of the stage declaring “Kano’s got a new banner, Kano’s got a new banger,” and they absolutely lap it up.
After maintaining momentum by dropping straight into previous collab with JME Flow of the Year, we’re treated to a new cut off the album, which has a strange atmosphere to it. The beat flicks along like a glitching video game insect, but there’s some piano chords at half time accompanying Kano’s much moodier sounding inflections; “Welcome to the Big Smoke, Where we pop bottles and we don’t vote”.
It would be way too easy to just rely on the big party tunes to carry him along, yet while I think this there are two guys behind me slinging the entire verses back his way. I’ve not seen this much adoration in a crowd since witnessing a hulking great bald bloke cry at a Pete Doherty gig.
As if in service to his avid fans, some trademark villainous strings fill the room before the weaponised scatter-beat kicks, awaiting the flow of Hustler. I appear to be the only person in here that can’t join in to the full extent, and I feel that I’ve done wrong, so Kano, I’m sorry that I haven’t got this one by heart yet man. This is democratic music at its best, and his disciples congregated here seem to have some real ownership over the music, so it’s a brave move indeed to slip into A Roadman’s Hymn, another cut from the new release. It’s an introspective, slow number where Kano’s bars broach more melodious ground, and why not? It’s this variability inherent in his songwriting that I think sets this guy apart from the rest of the grime scene at the moment; he’s not ashamed to appear to be selling out, because he’s clearly not, he’s just exploring what grime can do beyond hype.
The latter half of the set really picks up momentum, it’s mostly built up of old fan favourites – Forefather, Mic Check – and an explosive new number This Is England, which is brazen, derisive and typical Kano. A rolling, dusky bassline underscores some sampled horns that are as near to a national anthem as Concorde will receive in the near future. The rhymes of this number are delivered with reckless abandon by the man himself; “I’m from where Reggie Kray got rich as fuck…”, chewed up and regurgitated rabidly by the packed out room.
The first night of the tour has gone off the wall, the crowd even wailed for “one more song” after a stonking rendition of GarageSkank. I’m sure we’ll be hearing an awful lot more of Kano this year. Get yourself on to “Made in the Manor” because it’s MINT.
By Adam Morrison