Action Bronson - The Kazimier
Live Review

Action Bronson – The Kazimier

The Tuesday night hip hop crowd in Liverpool is a relatively new phenomenom, but with help from local promoters like Evol, Mad Nice, Bam Bam Bam and the No Fakin’ crew it’s beginning to find its feet with a rabid audience comprising equal parts true believers, ragged kiddas emanating scouse dank from their very pores, clued up students and the mildly curious – a happy slice of the urban pie that proves hip hop is transcending demographics here on Merseyside. It is a bit of a sausage fest though, a sentiment later echoed by tonight’s headliner.

Tonight, it’s the turn of New York man-mountain and former chef Action Bronson to take to the Kazimier stage as part of his Blue Chips II tour, but first up tour support Hawk House make a good job of warming up the already hazy crowd with their old-school hip hop charting the not-so-smooth course of inner city UK life. Sitting somewhere between a balmy summer in London and a defiantly knowing East Coast US sound and comprised of Croydon brothers Sam and Eman alongside Harlesden songbird Demae, the trio weave melodic nu-soul with insightful rhymes and luscious beats that drip with the imagined sweat of restless heat wave sleep. They’re an instant hit with the assembled masses tonight and the venue is already bursting with a crowd eager to see what these hotly tipped newcomers have got – thankfully they don’t disappoint and we, along with the rest of the crowd, are left wanting more as they’re ushered off stage for running over their time slot.

As hip hop characters go, they don’t come much larger than life than Arian Asllani, aka Action Bronson. He is not the sort of man you say no to. Cutting an imposing figure in an XXXL black hoody, he’s clearly having a bit of a trouble with the stage steps in the Kazimier tonight as he pauses at the precipice, bellowing “what the fuck is going on…I can’t rap from up here” down the mic. After a tense few moments he’s down on the stage and before long he’s launching into ‘Silverado’ from his fifth Mixtape Blue Chips II, expertly demonstrating our earlier point as he coolly points out “why the fuck would I have a bodyguard if I look just like the motherfuckin’ bodyguard?”

Renowned for his stage antics, Bronson’s performance sometimes seems at odds with his own philosophy – he decries the use of hooks and crowd participation in hip hop stating “fuck that, tonight I’m just gonna rap for you a lot” – but by the same measure he’s passing blunts around the audience and starting a mosh pit to 80’s metal while the backing track plays his vocal. Not that we’re complaining, as it elevates his relatively passive stage show to a higher level. Tracks like ‘Contemporary Man’ show how diverse Bronson can be as he takes us on a walk through the soundtrack of childhood, skilfully laying down vocal bars over samples from Huey Lewis, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, but there’s something about his performance tonight that doesn’t seem to quite click with the crowd.

A formidable force on record, Bronson’s music is joyous and uniquely personal in the rap game – he’s a real character with a real story behind him, but something tonight isn’t working. Whether it’s that a large portion of the audience seem to be curious first timers or clued-in hipsters with no real grasp of his material, or maybe the increasingly heavy cloud of weed smoke choking the vibe, there’s a subdued sit-back-and-watch section of the crowd that seem to be totally disengaged in the show. A dedicated core are lapping up every minute of his amiable stage patter and house party atmosphere and there’s no doubting his lyrical skill when Bronson is in full flow, but eventually we wander out of the venue tonight feeling like the live show didn’t quite live up to the hype it’s been showered with.

Words: Jamie Otsa
Photo credit: Michelle Roberts

Venue: The Kazimier
Support Band: Hawk House

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