Review: Labrinth, Bristol Academy

March 2, 2012

If you’ve ever wondered why the unknown Tine Tempah in his breakout megahit Pass Out could be singing about having so many clothes he keeps them in his aunt’s house, and driving pass the bus the bus he used to run for, it’s because the song was not written by him but by Labrinth, who had already achieved considerable success as a producer.

Labrinth, aka Timothy McKenzie, signed to Simon Cowell’s record label Syco, is now a solo star in his own right.

So it was rather confusing that the 22-year-old Londoner spent much of this gig, part of his first UK tour where he was ably supported by Dot Rotten and Jay Lee Dee, covering songs that he has produced or guested on.

We had not just Pass Out but also his other Tinie Tempah collaboration, Frisky, as well as covers of tracks he has worked on with Professor Green and Miss Dynamite. It was like a greatest hits sit from an artist evidently more at home working with others than by himself.

His version Oh My God by Professor Green, which he produced and guests on, started awkwardly, with the crowd unable to sing back the lyrics he set them up for. It was thankfully just better at the second attempt.

Wearing a yellow and red shirt buttoned up to the top button, and with his trademark NHS specs, there were glimpses of Labrinth as an engaging frontman. But even his very first song of this set sampled Express Yourself by NWA. It was surprising that for a man so evidently innovative, as exemplified by Pass Out, he had to rely so much on others’ work.

Labrinth played the part of the frontman, but not with a huge amount of conviction. He played an acoustic guitar during Vultures, about people taking good moments away from you, and he jumped in the photographers’ pit during a song which sampled Mario Kart from the Super Nintendo.

The songs that got the best reaction were his own solo efforts, the soul-tinged Let the Sun Shine, and the beat heavy Earthquake, featuring his old mate Tinie.

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