Review: 1Xtra Live at the BBC Proms

I should start off this review by apologising to you for not being here. I’m terribly sorry that you’re missing the atmosphere that’s here. I have been to many BBC Proms in my time, mainly because I’m a huge BBC nerd but without a doubt I have never experienced a Prom like this. I make a point to review the best of the BBC and this is actually it.

Within two minutes of arrival, I’d made this decision. Krept and Konan wasted no time bringing their best in performance and literally had the Royal Albert Hall jumping.

Remember back in GCSE music when your teacher tried to explain to you that Beethoven was able to fill concert halls and you though they were taking the mick? Well, attend a 1Xtra Prom and you’ll see exactly how the Royal Albert Hall was so essential to the culture.

This is the most diverse crowd, people of all ages, races, genders and backgrounds coming to see what has to be the best collaborative performance the Grime scene has ever done. I see gentlemen with salt and pepper hair applauding the rappers – honestly something you’d never expect. BBC 1Xtra is breaking boundaries, and this is something it purely does not get enough credit for. 1Xtra are showcasing black culture and black royalty – that alone is inspiring and empowering and does not receive enough mainstream recognition.

The sound at centre stage

Shola Ama was the special guest appearing with Wretch 32 – she is so famous in the underground her sister became famous for being related to her. Her voice is incredible, the songs she covers throughout show pure talent and a craft that is mastered. This show is no challenge for her, ‘tis a voice that could excel in every field except country, because who the hell wants to listen to country music anyway.

The entire string section is absolutely banging. There are no other words for the clever writing that the grime genre does not get enough credit for. The sound coming from there is literally orgasmic, and really stands out. The brass and woodwind section exist as mere decorations, because the strings steal the show. When you catch it on iPlayer (as I know you’re going to), make sure you get a decent sound system.

The highlight of the night is Lethal Bizzle’s set, and listen out for the typical favourite ‘Pow’, because he’s Lethal Bizzle and that song is what has been working for him for a long time. Wretch 32 held the show together and there were people jumping, dancing… in the Royal Albert Hall.

I’ve been writing this review live, because I didn’t want to forget anything. Luckily, Chip (formerly known as Chipmunk) is on stage. I’ve never forgiven him for that verse on Game Over so I don’t particularly care what he’s doing and the audience obviously agree. Chip went away to do pop music, and his fight to be accepted again shows you how unique and real the grime culture is. The following is built on respect for audio talent and lyrical aptitude and people can tell the difference between Grime and pop music.

A learning experience for all

The night closed with an instrumental version of Wiley’s ‘Wot U Call It’, and regrettably there were no covers from our vocal stars. However, the orchestra received a standing ovation from the entire crowd. The atmosphere was electric and my biggest complaint is that the show was far too short.

It was said to me that you don’t know who your favourite MC is until you’ve seen him live. Pop music and grime music don’t mix. When you come back to grime music after pop, people don’t care.

I didn’t understand it until I saw the live atmosphere. Grime is a genre that was misrepresented in order for the police to close down raves – you will never understand Grime until you see it live, but thankfully 1Xtra did you a solid by creating this prom.

Experience it, and then… take a chance with the music. Learn something new.

The 1Xtra Prom is available to listen to via iPlayer for 30 days.

What do you think of this Prom? Have your say in the comments section below.