EVERYTHING THAT WENT DOWN AT GHETTS' HEADLINE SHOW
On a dreary, unassuming October evening, Ghetts disciples filled the streets outside the Jazz Café in Camden. Although it was a Thursday, church was most certainly in session as these loyal disciples eagerly awaited to be blessed by the first reading of some of the scriptures from Ghetto Gospel – The New Testament. The album itself has already been heralded as the album of the year, so therefore it comes as no surprise that Ghetts had little trouble in filling the Jazz Café to capacity.
Once inside, it was a hub of activity as adoring fans jostled for the prime positions, which would allow them to be an arm’s length away from one of the greatest MCs this country has ever produced. But before Pastor Ghetts would take centre stage to deliver his sermons; we were left in the capable hands of Rude Kid who took us through the ages with his mixes. Rude Kid’s musical wormholes took us from garage classics like “Rewind” straight through to the modern day with bangers like Headie One and Kenny Allstar’s “Tracksuit Love”.
Rude Kid’s mixes would prove to be the perfect introduction for Mercston as he would be the first to take to stage. After being whipped into a frenzy by the selecta, Mercston effortlessly rode the wave created by the energetic crowd who seemingly could not be quelled as he secured the first wheel up of the night. As Mercston departed, the Ghetto Gospel choir could be seen taking position behind their respective mic stands; and the band members limbered up for what was to be a truly spellbinding display.
The instrumental to “Caution” then hammered out the speakers as Ghetts nonchalantly strolled onto centre stage catching the beat perfectly, as he dove head first into a typical high octane Ghetts performance. Considering the album was released less than a month ago, the crowd and Ghetts were undoubtedly spitting from the same hymn sheet, as they fired the lyrics straight back to Ghetts with Ghetto esque gusto. These energy levels were maintained throughout the next few tracks as Ghetts glided down the tracklist onto “Pick up the Phone” where the crowd filled in for the absent Prez T; Ghetts’ homage to “London” was revisited twice as each segment of the crowd vied for decibel supremacy. The audience was called on again to fill in for Suspect (arguably the standout feature on the album), on “Houdini” and Donae’o on “Preach”. Just as Ghetts had imagined it when he first recorded “Preach”, the call and response worked perfectly as each member of the crowd emphatically recited the soon to be infamous lines “MORALS MY BRUDDA I CANT ABANDON MY BELIEFS”.
Although the crowd clearly came to see Ghetto, they were more than happy to indulge in all that he had to offer. The album is a masterpiece precisely because it is so three dimensional, the hype is offset by the deeper more introspective cuts on the album. The Ghetto Gospel Choir’s mesmerising performance of “Hand on the Bible” signalled a change of pace as Ghetts got ready to provide us with what truly separates him from his peers.
The first half of the album had gone by without any of the features making an appearance, “Spiritual Warfare” brought an end to this; as both vocalists, Jordy and Leah Mcfall gave star turns as the crowd holstered their gun fingers in respect. They would be exchanged for applause and nods of appreciation as Ghetts’ wizardry on stage had transformed the bloodthirsty masses; into solemn discerning listeners as Ghetts navigated between “Next of Kin”, “Black Rose” and particular respect was paid to Ghetts’ heartfelt tribute on “Jess’s Song”, where he performed the majority of it with his eyes closed.
The audience was given a shot of adrenaline as long-time collaborator Wretch 32 jumped on stage to perform “Purple Sky”, other fan favourites like “Halloween” and “Slumdog Millionaire” kept the energy levels high, but cries of “Shellington” could be heard as the crowds appetite for destruction grew. A hooded figure appeared at the side of the stage, as Ghetts attempted to sate this appetite as he savagely delivered his “Shellington Crescent” verse. Once Chip revealed himself, it was like witnessing two seventh Dans sparring in a dojo, as Ghetts and Chip went back to back.
The energy from there on out became Bruce Banner levels of unstable as Ghetts and Rude Kid closed proceedings with a medley of the old and the new, and proved that a small venue packed with devoted fans is better than a stadium full of casuals. Truly an unforgettable performance that will stay with both fans and artists alike.