Wednesday 21st February, Manchester Academy
After his badly-received appearance at Pangea Festival back in September 2017, the difference between Wednesday’s performance and that was stark. Instead of spitting out four songs with minimal energy and multiple breaks, his performance at the Academy seemed to remind the people of Manchester of his true talent.
However, it must be said that upon arrival, the energy in the room was strange. The in-house DJ was playing a contorted remix of Spice Girls hits and S Club 7 and the room was less than receptive of it. The mix of people also added to the originality of the night. Most were indeed young people that came for the mosh pits and the drink throwing, and yet a large percentage were the over 40s who came in couples or groups to see the man that had exposed the UK to the originality of grime music.
It can be said that this extended period of terribly remixed songs and the strange dynamic between the generations created a collective sense of disappointment within the crowd before Wiley had even come on. His supporting act, a young female rapper from South London was a happy break from the pop songs of before, and yet she seemed to only do 60 second segments of each song and her energy only did so much to elevate her otherwise generic performance.
Nonetheless, the appearance of Wiley seemed to makeup for all that had come before, and whilst he walked on to the backdrop of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which in itself made the crowd erupt in boos as well as cheers, he immediately went into ‘Been A While’ from his new album Godfather II which stimulated the crowd into a sudden frenzy.
From then on the crowd became a constant mosh-pit with security running in and out literally every three minutes. The speakers created a heavy bass that vibrated your whole body and this, coupled with Wiley’s Gucci backpack, set the scene for a naughty night. His chart bangers like ‘Wearing My Rolex’ and ‘Heatwave’ created a near immovable crowd, with 18 year olds and 38 year olds alike pushing and shoving against one another to show their excitement at Wiley’s voice.
The ‘special guests’ Wiley introduced lived up to their ‘special’ title, and local MC Kay Rico’s performance of his new song ‘Blitzed’, with its heavy bass and young-Wiley-esque feel, further energised the crowd and set Wiley up nicely for the next part of his set. As he’s known as an artist who pushes the careers of other grime performers, such as Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder and Chip, Wiley’s introduction of Kay Rico and Cody was well received from the crowd, and their individual grime styles placed Wiley back in the position of the ‘Godfather of Grime’.
That same night saw Stormzy dominate the Brit Awards in a passionate performance that will go down in music history. Whilst Wiley was not Stormzy’s mentor, his push of young grime artists, and his own music history that helped create and sustain the grime industry, exposes Wiley as the true ‘king of grime.’ His performance last Wednesday did nothing to question this, and instead reinforced and cemented this image. The range of generations that came to see him, and the reception that each individual person gave him showcases the sheer talent that this mentor and founder has.