Aitch is undoubtedly on the rise to stardom. With two Brit Award nominations to his name, 10 UK top 40 singles, and multiple festival headlines, a show-stopping performance was to be expected. Closing his Close To Home tour with two dates in Manchester, his home-turf, there was a wired and restless atmosphere filling the venue.
Aitch jumped through the neon lights with boundless energy, starting with smash hit ‘Taste (Make it Shake)’ – an immediate crowd pleaser. He was met with a never-ending wave of phones as his fans tried to get a snapshot of the northern lad doing what he does best.
Born and bred in Moston, North Manchester, Aitch seemed relieved to be back in his home city. Throughout the show, he commented on how much he loves “Manny”, and to the crowd’s delight, Mancunian girls. It was an impressive start, with the young rapper sending the crowd into a frenzy with quick verses that he delivers with passion and intent.
The lighting was fiery and intense, well matched to each song without distracting from the music. Slower and more emotional songs were complemented with calmer colours, adding variety to a hyped-up setlist. In the more stripped-back songs, Aitch appeared to be singing in an elevated, lit-up cage, adding dimension to the stage. This kept the audience engaged visually as well as audibly.
Mid-way through the set, Aitch gets the crowd going again with his recent single ‘1989’, a fitting contribution to the album about his humble upbringing in Moston. Madchester legends, The Stone Roses‘ ‘Fool’s Gold’ (released in the eponymous year) is sampled on this track, possibly representing the idea that the pride of being a Mancunian musician is still extremely relevant today. It’s a classy rendition and one that the crowd love, immediately dancing and filming Aitch’s every word.
‘Sunshine’ is another tribute to Aitch’s Moston roots, with the lyrics “Never left Manny, I was trapped in the beehive / Grew up on fish, chips, sandwich and meat pies.” It’s heartwarming to see how important Aitch’s working-class roots are to him, despite his status.
Aitch interacted with the crowd throughout the show. He was able to tell stories about growing up in Manchester that people could personally relate to, and his signature cheeky sense of humour shone. This humble part of Aitch’s personality paved the way for tracks such as ‘My G’, a tribute to his younger sister who has down syndrome.
Ed Sheeran‘s feature within the track instantly pleased fans as they sang along. It was given a well thought-through placement within the setlist, amongst the booming baselines and R-rated lyrics to follow.
During ‘Close To Home’, Aitch brought out the Kids Choir – around 20 children filling the stage and singing in-between Aitch’s quick verses. This was a down-to-earth offering performed with zeal, really touching the hearts of the audience. Aitch really pulled the audience together with this song, encouraging everyone to join in with the choir. It also showed the 22-year-old’s musical maturity, and his vulnerable side.
Drawing the gig to a close with hit singles ‘Rain’ and ‘Baby’ (featuring Ashanti), Aitch had the audience wrapped around his finger. As soon as the iconic keys of ‘Rain’ belted through the speakers the crowd went wild. Everyone seemed to know all the words and was rapping along as he enticed the fans onstage.
Aitch asked the crowd to bring back the summer vibes as he finalised the show with ‘Baby’ which charted at number two in the UK Charts. It was a clear highlight and ended the night on a high with everyone singing “Oh Baby, I’m Satisfied.”
Aitch performed with charisma and musical skill which was really impressive. It was genuinely a night of laughs and creative genius.
You can read the latest news and tour updates from Aitch on his official website. Listen to Close To Home below: