Dizzee Rascal - 53 Degrees Preston - 15.2.08

There's a strong police presence tonight and that's just queuing up to gain access to the venue. On arrival a sniffer dog is kept busy detecting any possible drugs and punters are searched before being let in. With extra security inside 53 Degrees, every possible measure has been taken to curb any violence or gang related activity. It's a pity hip hop gigs have such a bad reputation as Dizzee Rascal's performance is pretty much incident free, give or take the odd scuffle at the front, but that's par for the course at any gig regardless of the genre of music.

This is the first date of Dizzee's short tour and expectations are high after the crowd are warmed up by Plastic Little and IGI who are two acts bound to be huge. Wearing his trademark cap, Dizzee rascal waves his arms, bigs up Preston and laps up the adoration he richly deserves. A DJ scratches, mixes and controls the sound like a master craftsmen of sonic brilliance. There's another MC on stage but no one here is in doubt that Dizzee is the main focus who has brought a sold out crowd.

Dizzee's scatter-gun delivery cockney rap is miles apart from the smooth sophisticated over produced hip hop from America. Everyone loves him for his rough and ready demeanour, his time as a mighty MC never forgetting his roots or where he came from. "Liar Liar" is instantly recognizable as the nursery rhyme style chorus kicks in to a grime back beat, noisy and confrontational. "Jus A Rascal" is more mischievous, playful and one of his older songs, always a crowd pleaser. Endearing himself to the indie crowd, Dizzee performs "Temptation" his collaboration with Arctic Monkeys, a great hybrid of guitars and beats. The DJ then comes over all cheesy by playing bursts of Nirvana and The White Stripes just to hammer home the point the gig is populated by skaters, rock kids and indie fans as well as the hip hop fraternity.

Memories of last years Radio 1's Big Weekend festival come flooding back when Dizzee's comeback single "Sirens" is performed. The crowd are bouncing, Dizzee is giving us his best cheshire cat grin as the security keep the peace throughout all the chaos. Dizzee stops halfway through "Flex" to a break up a fight remarking "why ya fightin? this song is about impressing girls". The incident is soon forgotten though but Dizzee's voice is causing him some concern so he only manages to play one encore but no one seems to mind, his energy and charisma never fails to raise the roof.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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