Wiley, AJ Tracey, Levelz & more
Saturday 25th March
Albert Hall, Manchester
Wiley has a lot of love for Manchester, which he made sure to communicate at the start of his set, shouting out relative newcomers Bugzy Malone and Geko, and an MC most of the crowd were too young to remember - Shifty, who he subsequently described as “the greatest Manchester Mc ever” in a tweet written not long after his performance.
A notorious no-show, Wiley was on stage surprisingly early, seemingly filming the hyped crowd from behind the decks. But despite what promised to be a momentous occasion for audience and artist alike, the performance started off on a bad note when the MC missed the start of the first verse of “Speakerbox”. Things seemed to improve when he delivered high energy tracks such as Snakes & Ladders’ “On A Level” and Godfather’s “Back With A Banger”, but was soon back on shaky ground as “Name Brand” was met with a lacklustre response, prompting the artist to abandon the track midway.
(AJ Tracey - Photo: Jack Kirwin)
Given that Wiley is deservedly described as the best MC to ever do it, most recently certified by an award from Noisey, it would be unjust to blame him for the rollercoaster of a show. Rather, a noticeable delay on the mic was making him sound off-beat and a late start of 2AM worked against him, with the crowd reaching their peak during the preceding set of gun-finger worthy tracks courtesy of BBK’s DJ Maximum. Perhaps the best set of the night came from AJ Tracey, who fresh from his America and Canada tour with Dave, delivered an effortless performance, flanked by a crowd mouthing every word of “Naila”, “Pasta” and “Leave Me Alone”. Donae’o’s set was an equally satisfying warmup, while Manchester’s very own Levelz finished the night off with appropriately celebratory renditions of their rowdy catalogue.
Photos courtesy of Jack Kirwin