Skip to main content

alexcooper
6th November 2023

Little Simz live in Manchester: Simz the artist or Simbi the person?

Little Simz made the UK debut of her new show in Manchester, and it may have cemented her position as the greatest current British artist
Categories:
TLDR
Little Simz live in Manchester: Simz the artist or Simbi the person?
Credit: Issy Hatton-Williams @ The Mancunion

Timing is everything,” Little Simz said immediately after she won the 2021 Mercury Prize for her masterpiece, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. She knows the drill by now. 11 months after the surprise release of her fourth album NO THANK YOU, she made the UK debut of her new headline show, right here at Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse.

There are tropes and clichés when writing about music, and often rap music, where journalists claim that a specific artist has “changed the game” or “put everyone else on notice.” In the UK, right now, these lines are only merited when talking about Little Simz.

Talent like Little Simz’s is timeless. Wearing an oversized shirt, bomber jacket, and black tie, with equally oversized cargo pants, she restyled ‘the’ classic look to match 2023 streetwear. For the first half of the show, she stood alone on stage, and delivered cuts from her latest album, as well as those from Sometimes I Might Be Introvert and 2019’s GREY Area. Masked by blackout sunglasses, and sometimes taking minutes to stare straight ahead, Simz was assured, and spectacular.

little simz
Credit: Issy Hatton-Williams @ The Mancunion

“You’re witnessing greatness. And that’s not through arrogance, but confidence,” she said in between songs, with the 3,500-people-strong warehouse in agreement. Always with tricks up her sleeve, she fused 2020’s charged ‘might bang, might not’ with her love letter to adolescence and pirate radio ‘101 FM’, the Nokia ringtone beat ringing out across the venue. No one was checking their phones.

After settling into her 45-minute solo set, she once again changed things up. Flanked by a bassist and a guitarist, Little Simz exited the stage, only to return to deliver the highlight of the night, ‘Gorilla’. The single, since it dropped in December 2022, has managed to be the song of the winter, spring, summer, autumn and most likely the incoming winter.

The track cut out after two lines, leaving us and Simz to rap the rest of it between us; we got remarkably far before it was wheeled up, but you couldn’t help but think the crowd could’ve finished it themselves. ‘Gorilla’ is to Simz what ‘HUMBLE.’ is to Kendrick Lamar. One note, and the crowd are away.

little simz
Credit: Issy Hatton-Williams @ The Mancunion

A lo-fi version of Bond-theme-esque ‘Introvert’ displayed Little Simz’s desire for constant evolution. She is never one to rest on her laurels, and played guitar herself on several tracks across the second half of the set.

It hasn’t been easy for Little Simz up to this point. As an independent artist, she doesn’t enjoy the same high production budgets that many artists do. She even had to cancel her US tour for Sometimes I Might Be Introvert as it wasn’t financially viable. However, the new headline show has stunning visuals, a great-sounding performance, and most importantly, a giving, positive, and charismatic frontperson. No addition to the budget could’ve improved the performance; Little Simz’s show had everything.

little simz
Credit: Issy Hatton-Williams @ The Mancunion

In ‘Introvert’, Little Simz searches, “I hate the thought of just being a burden / I hate that these conversations are surfaced / Simz the artist or Simbi the person?” From tonight, it’s clear that fans are incredibly invested in Little Simz both as an artist, but also as a person. She took time out from the set several times to encourage conversations around mental health, and even held a moment of silence for the ongoing situation in Palestine.

This is an artist who understands that she means more beyond her performance on stage, or the albums she’s put out. And instead of shying away, she takes up the mantle with defiance and joy, despite the bleak landscape of life.

little simz
Credit: Issy Hatton-Williams @ The Mancunion

After the run of new album songs ‘Broken’ and ‘Who Even Cares’, the former of which got even a security guard below the stage singing the hook, Little Simz came into the crowd to take polaroids of fans. Polaroids are the purest form of photo; totally unfabricated and true of a moment in time.

Signing the pictures after they were printed, and even shouting out someone on their birthday, she clearly understood that in her set, she was able to create a few unforgettable moments for crowd members that night. The power of being on stage is being used for good when you’re Little Simz. If we were to take a polaroid of her in this moment, we would see the greatest British artist right now.

Little Simz is on tour until November 10.

Alex Cooper

Alex Cooper

Head Music Editor and Writer for the Mancunion. Once walked past Nick Cave in Zagreb. Enquiries: [email protected]

More Coverage

Fat White Family’s Lias Saoudi is circling around the Post-Punk cul-de-sac

Now that Fat White family have returned with ‘Forgiveness Is Yours’, lead-singer Lias Saoudi has a lot more to say about post-punk, lyricism, and being a Londoner

Peter Bibby – Drama King: A tragic and unpredictable opus

Infusing the classic songwriting of Dylan and Springsteen with Australian wit and dive bar narratives, Peter Bibby’s latest album constantly surprises

Tenacious D live in Manchester: The metal bring the fire

Jack Black’s rock-comedy project Tenacious D stopped off in Manchester on their ‘Spicy Meatball’ tour, performing to 20,000 fans at the AO Arena

Sour Grapes Records’ ‘Meltchester’: Mancunion music community at its finest

Manchester’s own Sour Grapes Records brings Meltchester to town again at Projekts Skatepark