Old timer DJ Clark Kent stepped up to the decks to fill the void between live acts and although not amazingly impressive technically wise, (this wasn't a turntablist show anyway), he proceeded to drop banger after banger and as he played you could feel the energy levels rise and anticipation of what was to come grow. I'm not sure where they would have appeared on the bill, but M.O.P. unsurprisingly did not make the flight and were a no show on the night. Had they performed the roof would have been torn off, but with a crew so notorious for being scared to come to the UK anyone could have foreseen this happening. After their chart success MOP have a following over here and their addition to the bill would have made this a real night to remember, something extra special.
Regardless, N.O.R.E. stepped up to the stage engulfed in an exceptionally large entourage including the obligatory dude holding the armoured briefcase. I'm not overly familiar with N.O.R.E., but he did a set which seemed to pass pretty quickly. He did get the crowd hyped for his hits like Whut and Nothin but it did appear that he was rapping over a vocal version of Nothin and so that was a bit of a let down as well. I would say that overall N.O.R.E. did nothing to increase his standing in my esteem as this was an average performance and did not blow me away.
Finally though the real star of the show took to the stage looking suave and surprisingly svelte in a simple black suit with an open necked white shirt. He was absolutely tremendous, on his own he blew away N.O.R.E. and his crew of about 11 other people. BIG DADDY KANE - he's a legend - He started off with the rowdy Set It Off and Raw and I was fucking freaking out. The venue really felt like it was shaking as the whole crowd went into hyper jump up mode. Even at his age Big Daddy could still bust Wrath Of Kane and performed most of it wandering through the crowd and didn't miss a beat, not even as he was getting mobbed, nor as he climbed back on to the stage. Like the pro he is he wasn't wearing any gold or a watch or anything so there was no chance of a repetition of what happened to Redman in Bradford back in the day when he stage dived and the crowd parted. As Redman got to his feet he realised all his bling had gone and he sheepishly retreated to his dressing room not to be seen again that night!
Kane performed many of his classics from before his weak Madonna chasing period and I was amped to be able to reminisce to these classic tracks which used to get daily play in my yard back when I was a youngster. He did a 'take it back to the old skool' section covering snippets of beats from Sugar Hill and Erick B & Rakim etc. as well as paying his respects to artists that have passed before getting into Ain't No Half Steppin which absolutely blew me away. Kane extended it a few minutes and got the crowd shouting the chorus, then getting them to take the volume right down before bringing it back up. First time I have seen that. He was a real professional and just showed how little charisma and skills modern MCs have.
All too soon Kane had finished his set and the night was coming to an end. Rell and N.O.R.E. were called back on stage for a massed encore. N.O.R.E. tried to pull off a quick freestyle, but really should not have bothered and Kane chipped quick smart. He was called back, but the venue staff were enforcing a strict curfew and he wasn't allowed back on stage which led to proceedings coming to a rather abrupt halt.
We rushed back to the bar to imbibe some more free hospitality, where we were
entertained by a body popping magician who performed some amazing close up
tricks including pushing my cigarette through a playing card with no hole in it
and guessing everyone's cards. All told then, not all of the acts performed to
their full potential and the lack of MOP was obvious, but none of that mattered
as Big Daddy Kane really smashed it and I would have thought I had had a great
night if I had only seen him. I was on a high for quite a while after and seeing
Kane rip it like that gave me a reminder of what a really strong performance can
do and also pointed to what is missing with the majority of mediocre acts we are
presented with these days. Respect to o2 for organising this and I hope that
plenty of dosh was raised for the Nordorff Robbins charity which helps problem
kids with music therapy.