Azealia Banks – 02 ABC, Glasgow, Mon 15 Sep
Filth and fury abound in electrifying performance from Harlem hip hop artist
Two years ago Azealia Banks played a sold out show in this very room. Dressed in lizard scales, replete with matching green contact lenses and a shit eating grin, the self-styled Yung Rapunxel gyrated across the stage like David Icke's auto-destructive wet dream. Tonight she’s gone for the marginally more demure black transparent top and PVC mini skirt, and- while she still holds the half-filled auditorium inthrall- once the initial fanfare of confetti canons and strobe lights have subsided, you see that they mainly served to highlight the patches of floor space in the audience. This was further emphasized by the straining, over exuberance of her dancers and Banks clearly anxious to endear herself to the crowd; "Thank you fans for standing by me though all the ups and downs. I'm an independent girl now", she said in reference to her recent acrimonious split with Universal records.
Maybe the popularity merited by her super nova talent has been undermined by her reputation for pulling out of shows, not kowtowing to major label bean counters and her frequent, frothing twitter tirades? Maybe Planet Hip Hop has caught up with the considerable innovations on her slew of early EPs and the three year wait on her still unreleased debut album? But, once the hint of obsequiousness has dissolved into her more familiar pelvic swagger, she warms to the task and turns in an electrifying performance that’s brimming with ideas.
She marauds through old favorites like ‘Atlantis’ and ‘Liquorice’ with an almost hysterical intensity, as techno-infused beats propel bass lines you can’t so much hear as feel in the bridge of your nose. Her a cappella introduction to new single, ‘Heavy Metal and Reflective’, is a deceptively soulful entree into a song that lurches with monolithic slabs of bass and hi-hats percolating hyperactively under beats that hit you across the lobes like blunt objects.
It seems like Banks must be selling shares in "coochy" because the word is smeared over almost every profanity strewn songs. Eating it, saving it for later, flaunting it, denying it, wielding it, shielding it. It’s luridly invoked on crowd favorite ‘1991’ in a spit fire rap about ‘flirting with a cool French dude named Antoine”.
She closes the set with an eyeball-wobbling version of her most celebrated song, ‘212’, as a galaxy of smart phones are suspended above heads, vainly trying to capture the filth and fury of Banks’ mercurial talent.