AJ Tracey Plays an Odd Set at The O2, 07.03.19

Though expectations for AJ Tracey’s show last Thursday were extremely high, for the most part the rapper delivered an odd night that almost definitely didn’t live up to his capabilities. After most attendees finally got inside the venue by 9pm, two hours after doors had opened, the support act was nowhere to be seen and Tracey himself took the stage amongst much confusion.

The crowd’s energy for the majority of the night was extremely low, with even considerable bangers of tracks receiving little appreciation; most people seemed to be watching the rapper through the screens of their phones. Despite this even Tracey himself seemed downcast, at times attempting to verbally cajole attendees into responding more strongly and even going so far as to fully start songs again, creating a strange vibe that wasn’t helped by the muted quality of his backing music.

A notable moment came about with his performance of ‘Country Star’ from his new album, another more chilled track with acoustic guitar- a new feature- but still carrying familiar beats. Tracey unexpectedly sat down on a stool for this one, an ironic nod to actual country-genre performers’ setups, however this didn’t seem to carry across to the audience well as energy seemed to drop even further. One track that as expected was received well was ‘Ladbroke Grove’, which even the most lacklustre attendees couldn’t help belting out the lyrics to, but moments like this were few and far between.

The highlight of the evening came not from Tracey himself, but from a local legend support act he brought on midway through the set: Tom Zannetti, absolutely infused with raw energy and shouting encouragingly at the audience, delivered a dynamic performance of ‘You Want Me’, the only song of the night during which the crowd actually seemed to be fully enjoying themselves and dancing.

After dropping the Classic Soundcloud track ‘Pasta’ for older fans, and the newer ‘Triple S’- both of which started off slightly-too-violent moshing- Tracey rounded off the evening with popular track ‘Butterflies’, but it seemed too little too late- the crowd dispersed disappointed, most having spent little over an hour actually in the venue. Hopefully this show was an anomaly, and Tracey’s other shows and festival appearances this year live up to expectations.

Header Credit Image: Carolina Faruolo