Joey Bada$$ at O2 Academy Bristol: a review
On arrival at Bristol’s O2 Academy, the small queue outside gave little indication that tonight’s Joey Bada$$ show was a sell-out. By the time I got inside it was clear to see, as the main room was packed out and already bouncing to the bars of Nyck Caution (who is also a Pro Era member, along with Joey Badass and tonight’s DJ, Powers Pleasant).
The second support act, Meechy Darko, really ups the ante though. He appears on stage after being invited by Caution to join him for his last track, and I like the way that it then seamlessly blends into Darko’s set, the two work well together. It almost feels like a good chunk of tonight’s crowd is here for Meechy Darko as much as they are for Joey, and to be honest, I don’t blame them, he was great.
After telling us that he wasn’t allowed to stage dive or climb around the O2, he proceeded to walk from the stage, into the crowd and form a circle, before crowd surfing to the back of the room, grabbing himself a drink from the bar and walking back through everyone and back onto to the stage. Tight bars and solid lyrics aside, he was great fun to watch, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for his shows in the future.
Onto the headliner, and it’s an interesting mix of people in the room tonight, from groups of young teenage girls and boys (I think it was a 14+ gig) to middle-aged folks and beyond. Not that I would ever suggest there is a right or wrong age for any music, it’s just interesting to see, and I guess as Joey’s first album which was released back in 2012 (when he was just 17) was so critically acclaimed but also the fact that you don’t have to go far on platforms such as Tik-Tok to hear his tracks, Its no surprise that he has such a wide fan base.
Joey appears on stage and from the off his presence is infectious, with the energy in the room clear to see and feel. He bounds around the stage and bounces off DJ Powers Pleasant to get the room going. He seems genuinely pleased to be back in Bristol and tells us that his first UK show was in the city and it’s always great to be back. The set list is on point and we get to hear tracks from all of his studio albums as well as the iconic mixtape ‘1999’. Tracks like ‘Love is Only a Feeling’ and ‘Paper Trail$’ get everyone bouncing and rapping along and they are dropped perfectly alongside newer tracks from this year’s album ’2000’. Which goes down well too, with much of the room seeming to know that album word for word already. It’s towards the end of the show when tracks like ’Temptation’ and ‘Devastated’ drop that things really go off though, with both Nyck Caution and Meechy Darko appearing back on stage to finish off the set with the latter.
I came to the gig knowing a handful of his tracks but I’m not sure I’d have labelled myself as a fan. I left though, wanting to hear more and looking forward to diving into his back catalogue. His old school influenced sound shows that hip-hop can cross generations and nods to “The Golden Era” are still very much welcomed.