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For most of Ghetts’ show at London’s stunning Islington Assembly Hall, he is flanked by his close friends and musical family. The room erupts as collaborators emerge from the back of the stage, the list unfolding as a who’s who of the British hip-hop and grime scene; Giggs is met by a visceral roar from the crowd, Kojey Radical offers his sultry tones, Chip brings his distinctive style, Leah McFall delivers with perfect accuracy, and Kano unleashes his powerhouse vocals.
The list of features goes on, for the mid-portion of the set literally surrounded by Ghetts’ full band and gospel singers. The raw talent across the board is nothing less than jaw-dropping, effortlessly rivalling the ability of arena and stadium headliners from across the world of music. By the end, the backing band is replaced by a single DJ and Ghetts – at rapid pace – powers through cuts from his career with a fiery urgency.
Fittingly, with his friends by his side, tonight’s show is an ode to his home city. London – preceded by a shoutout to all four corners of the English capital – lays the cards firmly on the table. But far above that, Ghetts is bringing his very own London with him, and it’s powerfully bittersweet. With celebration at its core, the often harsh realities of city life run through the veins of both his music and his performance. A particularly poignant moment pairs his rapid-fire vocals with news segments of city violence.
Yet any overt negativity is left at the door. The crowd are as much Ghetts’ family as those on stage. On the balcony, fans are up on their feet in sheer awe of what’s happening down below. On the floor they glide along to every verse, ever-ready to blow up when the chorus hits. The atmosphere is upbeat, energetic, and cuttingly powerful all at once.
With two nights secured at London’s Islington Assembly Hall, Ghetts clearly has bigger stages in his near future, not least taking to The Ends Festival in Croydon this summer. Last year’s Ghetto Gospel: The New Testament, acclaimed for its notable substance, presents the many sides of Ghetts. Live, he’s comfortably embodying them all, and success looks secured. And he’s achieved it without sacrificing any of the authenticity that drives his brilliantly engrossing sound.
Ghetts rounds off his UK tour with shows in Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol, and is then set to take to London’s Royal Albert Hall alongside Disclosure as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust series.
He then appears at Lloyd Park in Croydon as part of The Ends Festival. Taking to the stage on Friday 31 May 2019, he performs on a bill alongside Nadia Rose, De La Soul and headliner Nas.
The Ends Festival also sees headline performances by Wizkid and Damian Marley.
Find Ghetts tickets, including for The Ends Festival, at Ticketmaster.co.uk.