Review: Plan B, Capital FM Arena, by David Belbin
THE last time he was in Nottingham, Ben Drew aka Plan B, began his Rock City set with some beatboxing. Tonight, at the Arena, he has two big name supports, like an old school package tour.
Hackney four piece Rudimental have had a number one, but still put up with the igmoniny of going on at 7pm, while some punters are still arriving. By 7.15pm their frenetic soul has the growing crowd going with Feel The Love.
Not Giving In brings things to a roaring close.
Labrinth has a fatter sound (provided by hidden, unacknowledged musicians) and better lights.
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The singer, who plays electric guitar for much of the set, is utterly bombastic. Not necessarily in a good way.
Last year's number one with Emeli Sandé, the delicate Beneath Your Beautiful, is the peak of his 43 minute set.
Black drapes fall away to reveal twin plinths and a massive video screen. Plan B might not have had a number one single, but he's well on his way to being a superstar.
This is a set of two halves, and the Twentieth Century Fox opening credits announce his breakthrough album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks. Plan B arrives, in a matching suit, shirt and tie.
The big numbers stream out: Love Goes Down, Writing's On The Wall, She Said. Too much, too soon, you might think, but it's the only way to play it when you have two such contrasting halves. And one song is saved for later.
The videos also tell the story. At Rock City they were a backdrop. In the Arena, they dominate, and it would be easy to miss Drew delivering one number from an onstage witness box.
After half an hour, he dons a baseball cap and plays a beatbox interlude that includes a brief rendition of White Stripes' Seven Nation Army.
Then it's part two, Ill Manors, after the film of the same name, written by and starring Drew. The plinths turn into tower blocks, with video screens at the top.
Live, Ill Manors works better than on disc, an angry explosion of rap that mesmerises the all but sold out arena, with plenty of pyrotechnics.
Lost My Way and Playing with Fire stand out.
He saves three numbers (and repeats one) for the encore, the highlight of which is his biggest hit, Stay Too Long.
After this storming 93 minute set, there's no doubt about who's number one tonight.