With Alexandra Palace perched on top of one of London’s highest peaks, it was a pretty good fit for a man riding the highest high of his decade long career.
Skepta’s gone from “Ally Pally Jungle raver” to being in command of a crowd of over 10,000 people in his very own ends.
For those who couldn’t make it, Apple Music and Beats1 streamed the entire show worldwide (“North London to the world”, Skepta wrote on Twitter), but the vibe was one that’s hard to capture on video. The atmosphere was electric with the venue packed to the rafters and Skepta whipping up mosh pits with his signature skank and frequent callouts for “more energy”. He hyped up the crowd introducing surprise guest after surprise guest; his brother Jme, Wretch 32, Giggs, Kano, Novelist, D Double E, Lethal Bizzle, Section Boyz and of course a full Boy Better Know crew showcase. Worth mentioning Skepta’s now-iconic dance move which he pulled out for Giggs’ Whippin’ Excursion.
In a brief moment of peace between the relentless hits and sweaty mosh pits, he took a moment to show some love to the fans before jumping straight into his hit single Shutdown. “I appreciate every last one of you in this building right now” he started, “I’ve got a mad energy burning inside me right now because mans never been in Ally Pally when it’s shutdown”. Upon hearing the opening notes the crowd went straight back into their frenzy.
The night ended with Skepta performing Man whilst standing on top of a burning car flanked by a mob of his mandem against a backdrop of flames. After the show, some interpreted it as a nod to Kanye West’s performance of All Day at last year’s Brits, for which West was joined by majority of the grime scene. The backlash from this award shot performance was then of course used by Skepta as a skit on Shutdown.
The flames and tracksuits also conjured up images of the burning cars which made front page news after the 2011 London Riots – a reference that’s hard to ignore when the show took place just minutes away from some of the worst affected parts of the city. The image turned into another kind of visual metaphor – Skepta rising like a phoenix from the post-riot legacy of his native Tottenham.