The Professor gave a master class
By Oliver Williams
CHART-topping English rappers are no longer the rarity they once were say ten or even five years ago.
But in terms of both genuine talent and commercial success Professor Green has to be regarded as a heavyweight among UK hip-hop and grime’s expanding hierarchy.
This rescheduled gig was well worth the wait for those who had bought tickets when the original show was first advertised and just as much so for the eager fans who queued up outside The Assembly hours before the headline act appeared.
The capacity crowd, however, weren’t just there to see the Professor.
Support act Rizzle Kicks, whose star has risen so rapidly in recent months that they could fill a large music venue on their own, gave a vibrant and energetic performance which set the tone for a night of raised hands, foot stomping, bouncing and head bopping - the likes of which is not typical but gratefully accepted in a town usually far removed from the urban music scene.
The Professor’s appeal was more hypnotic, more darkly engrossing, as he prowled the stage wearing a simple hoodie, jeans and T-shirt combination which was a far cry from his sharper attire on a recent appearance on the X Factor.
Here was a seasoned grime veteran, in the midst of a tiring UK tour which had included a tounge-in-cheek grilling from Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles that morning, who when the style is stripped away still has substance in abundance.
His set was superb - a showcase of the lyrical prowess, the menacing delivery and the theatrical presence which have been the key elements to his progression from underground MC to mainstream rap idol.
Hits such as Monster, I Need You Tonight and the rousing confessional Read All About It, boosted by an impressive backing band and two slick support vocalists, were greeted with mass approval which was regularly acknowledged by a Cheshire Cat-like grin from the mischievous genius.
He had every reason to smile - because like all good professors he had succeeded in showcasing why he is a leading expert in his field.