(First posted on http://www.recessiondodgetovictory.wordpress.com on 04/03/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question.

I could only guess what to expect from this one. I figured lots of chat with the audience and a crowd content on bopping it’s head and waving their arms around like they just don’t care, but all in, before the gig I thought it could’ve went any way really. The closest gig approaching hip-hop that I went to was Jehst, which went terribly as a result of having just come from work on a Friday in my suit. I felt like a fish out of water and was treated as such. Not a good gig that one, so much so I didn’t even bother to review it. I’ll give a quick synopsis though: if you like your bass so loud that it shuts out the artful lyrics the rapper is issuing entirely for a period of about 4 hours until they had to cut him off early because of a club night afterwards and bring it all to the boil with a bunch of neds in gangsta gear, well, Jehst at the Classic Grand was for you.

I had higher hopes for this one though. I knew both artists playing having discovered them both via their links to Sage Francis. Like Sage, B Dolan takes a cerebral, slam-poet rooted approach and Scroobius Pip has set himself up as a witty experimenter ready to broach new grounds. Both have their own styles of hip-hop, both give insightful commentary on the zeitgeist of our times.

I arrived at the venue with a friend and his friend after we had our own wee pub chat about the zeitgeist of our times but managed to catch what appeared to be the start of Dolan’s set at 8pm.

And what a set it was.

I had only listened to Dolan’s “House of Bees – Vol. 1” going into the set but because of his delivery I was hanging onto every word, I could still get into the material from his other albums and EPs that I quickly got a hold of after the gig.

This all goes without mentioning his showmanship which was without equal. Appearing in his gut-length fake blonde beard, not only did he throw in one-liners and rehearsed jokes he must’ve practiced for the length of his career but managed to interact with the  banter the audience threw at him as he fired back responses from the top of his head with equal aplomb which included a section where he had one heckler have a dance off with him while he slammed him with his raps. If you aren’t a fan of his music, I would encourage you to go purely on the basis that he’s equal parts comedian and musician and deserves all your attention.

To add to the showmanship, when he dropped material from the one album I did know, it was like an old friend had come back to play for us. Bearing in mind that this is the first time I’d seen him. I was told afterwards that he regulars Glasgow a fair amount and has played 4 times before.

After his set, my one lament was how he didn’t play “One Breath Left”; the Youtube video that got me into his music in the first place. Ever the showman however, he got the last laugh during Pip’s set. He came on about half way through, played the anthem with Pip doing guest vocal duties and then announced he’d be coming back to play in Pivo in March. Yas! I’ll say it once again, Go see him – christ! Come with me!. He stole the whole damn show.

Dolan was going to be a hard act to follow, but I figured Scroobatron the Mighty could manage it. After all he had the entirety of “Angles” full of anthemic tunes and hooks that would’ve had the crowd yelling along as well as his latest album “Distraction Pieces” which offers a whole host of different styles from breathy, slow numbers like ‘Feel It’ with Natasha Fox on vocals or the more jumpy, guitar-led, punky vibe to add to his intimate lyrics on the record.

When Pip came on it was with a half-necked bottle of rosé and glazed eyes. This set the tone for the performance as it was jumpier and had more action to it than I expected from the one half of the duo who produced “Angles” but then he never played any material at all from his time with Dan Le Sac, which was a little disappointing. I knew it was going to be a Pip set but expected at least one or two songs thrown in there.

The crowd got into it though and although the in-session banter wasn’t up to as much as I imagine it would’ve been if he was sober, the music was spot on. Having stepped away from “Angles” and the ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ limelight, Scroobius Pip was able to deliver the entirety of “Distraction Pieces” meaning we got treated to some of the more powerful moments from that album that we might miss in future gigs when he will have more material to focus on. Stand out moments included the yell-alongs ‘The Struggle’ and ‘Let’em Come’ and, the quiet, emotional highlight of the set for me, ‘Broken Promise’.

All in, great gig – would gladly see both artists again, individually or together. If you don’t listen to hip-hop or rap like I didn’t  for the longest time, you could do a lot worse than checking both of these guys out. Whether you’ve been dragged along by a friend or simply checked them out on Youtube, you could do a lot worse things with your time.

Some footage:

Also, did I mention they did a Prince cover?

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