On nationwide tour ★★★★★
London rapper Dave may have his roots firmly planted in the capital but he plainly has a soft spot for the East Midlands. Not only does he name-drop Leicester on several tracks but the recent Brit award-winner made sure Nottingham was the first date of his debut arena tour. He clearly has fond memories of early gigs at smaller venues Rescue Rooms and Rock City.
So this was a rapturous sort-of second-homecoming. Opening with the atmospheric Verdansk from last year’s extraordinary album, We’re All In This Alone Together, Dave rose to the stage through a plume of smoke. You could barely hear that number though the deafening screams; the same applied to hits Funky Friday and Screwface Capital.
But for all the love and recent success, he’s not a man to rest on his laurels. Halfway in, he abandoned the stage for a podium in the crowd and switched his backing from a single DJ to a full live band and gospel choir – the latter abetted by a crowd singalong during a ‘Thiago Silva’ football terrace chant to the tune of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.
Thereafter, he replicated his Brits ceremony feat of performing a guitar solo on an intricate, adapted version of In The Fire – a remarkable accomplishment on a huge stage like this, considering he had never picked up a guitar before October.
An explosive finale followed, as radio favourite Location lit up the arena before moody victory anthem Clash burnt it – metaphorically – to the ground.
‘This is just the beginning,’ was Dave’s parting line, and the 10,000 punters at his first arena show plainly believed him. Well they might.