Bouncing on stage to a packed-out intimate gig at Manchester’s Club Academy, Aitch was everything I’d hoped for – and more.
Quite literally jumping on stage to a crowd of adoring, screaming girls, Aitch started the night with ‘Taste (Make It Shake)’. The pride and affection in the room for the Moston-born rapper was palpable. In fact, of all the gigs I’ve been to I don’t think I have ever seen so many phones poised in the air ready to record Aitch’s every move, and every word.
I noticed that some of the crowd were even Face-timing their friends! Every person in the room – myself included – was ecstatic to see him in the flesh, and they didn’t want to forget a moment of it.
Aitch played ‘1989’ from his new album Close To Home, which samples ‘Fools Gold’ by legendary Manchester band The Stone Roses. On the note of Manchester bands, it is worth mentioning that this gig was only a few days after it came out that the Ian Curtis mural on Port Street had been pasted over by an advertisement for Aitch’s debut album Close To Home, which was released on August 19. Aitch immediately apologised on Twitter, explaining that it was the first he had heard of it and promising to get the Ian Curtis mural reinstated as soon as possible.
It’s come to light that the iconic Ian Curtis mural on Port Street has been painted over with my album artwork. This is the first time I’ve heard of this, me and my team are getting this fixed pronto. No way on earth would I want to disrespect a local hero like Ian.— Aitch (@OfficialAitch) August 16, 2022
Old favourites of the night included ‘Keisha & Becky’, ‘Strike a Pose’, ‘Learning Curve’, and ‘Rain’. Aitch delivered every track with energy and dedication. He was a crowd pleaser for sure, interacting with the crowd, cracking jokes, and ensuring that everyone had a good time.
Harrison Armstrong, who goes by the name Aitch, is a North Manchester lad through and through. On stage, he’s charming, cheeky and authentic. He’s just himself. There’s no pretence, just a working-class lad who loves music, rapping, and having a good time.
By all accounts, he doesn’t seem to have let fame change him in the way you might expect. But in many ways, Aitch is an ordinary person just like the rest of us. His debut album Close To Home, released on 19th August, offers a candid insight into his reality.
Aitch deals with the issues he has faced in his sudden rise to fame. It’s an intelligent, insightful and oddly reassuring delve into fame, friendships, family and, of course, the significance of his Manchester home of Moston.
One song off the debut album that seems to be attracting a lot of attention is ‘My G’. At the gig itself, Aitch asks a girl in the audience what her favourite song is off the new album and she replies ‘My G’. It comes as no surprise really because the song shows another side to Aitch.
In this track, the 22-year-old rapper speaks about the love he has for his younger sister Gracie who has
Down’s syndrome. “When you smile, you just light up the room / I ain’t never met a person that’s brighter than you” raps Aitch. It’s heart-warming because it’s different to a lot of his other stuff and serves as a reminder that you never know what’s going on in someone’s life, no matter how successful or famous they may be.
Aitch’s music aside, there’s something really endearing and truly inspirational about a Northern, working-class lad coming from nothing and achieving success in the way Aitch has. In his own words: “Ain’t nothin’ to it / I came from the sewers / Got busy, and made me a change.” I hope that Aitch can serve as a role model to ordinary, young people that they can succeed regardless of barriers they may have experienced and may continue to experience in life.
After what seemed like a short set of only about 45 minutes, he finished the night with ‘Baby’. Aitch seemed to love every moment of the gig just as much as his fans did.