Dizzee Rascal Royal Festival Hall 15 th March 2004
Worlds collided when the ghetto street sounds of Dizzee Rascal’s crew played a venue normally accustomed to more reserved performances from classical musicians. This stage was set to create a street atmosphere. Dangerous red and black lit up the DJ on a background of cold blue floor lighting, intertwined with the green circles of light typically seen at horror shows.
After opening with ‘Just Sitting Here’, Dizzee stood up, greeted “the L-D-N” getting everyone on their feet proclaiming, “this ain’t no sit down thing”. Asking the audience to “listen faster” he then mesmerised them with an accelerating rap creating a frenzy of excitement. More songs from ‘Boy In Da Corner’ followed, then Dizzee attempted to crank the atmosphere up further with some audience participation. But apart from the diehard groupies eventually joining in, his efforts fell on barren soil. “You people are gonna respect me if it kills me.”
Dizzee rewarded obliging fans at the front by gracing their outstretched hands with his, but this atmosphere struggled to spread
through the whole auditorium. It was not designed for that. And when Dizzee’s city song asked North, East, South and West London to make some noise, it became apparent from the reaction most of the crowd were not Londoners, “I can’t hear you!”. But Dizzee did end on a high when he came out for his encore to perform his debut single ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’, a song less ardent fans were more familiar with and better equipped to appreciate.
His powerful lyrics appeal to all kids, ghetto or not and this was reflected in the culturally diverse audience. But Dizzee belongs to the street and he’s proud of it. His razor sharp tongue sounded out of place in an arena used to hearing orchestras play. That he was invited to play at the Royal Festival Hall at all is testament to his award winning talent. Dizzee is a fantastic performer but homogeny breeds mediocrity and he should be seen in a venue with a character matching his own.