Spooks / Nash - Manchester MDH - 3.5.01

Its the playground where so many hip hop acts thrive or fall and tonight it is a game of two halves. First up are the British contenders. The Chancers Nash and they have the cultural icon for modern Britain, Ali G, on their side. Sacha's creation may be a bit long in the tooth nowadays but Nash' DJ, The Force, is the incomprehendable one you'll know from the TV series and boy can he really play those decks.

Nash collide the ethics of real songwriting and true hip hop beats and production. Its a connection that sees them wiping the floor with headliners Spooks and if anything their live shows are way better than the recorded product. Frontman Robert Nash' gypsy persona and friendly banter command the audiences attention before a note has been played and that is the true sign of a star. Add to that some great musicians and you have collective in the truest sense of the word.

Step by step they're taking it to a higher level. Its not going to happen over night but wait until the next album and you'll see Trevor Nelson, Giles Peterson and Jools Holland wondering why they didn't jump on the good ship Nash earlier.

Spooks on the other hand represent everything that is bad about hip hop. If anything the accusations of white-boy indie kids hold true with these guys. Perhaps its the lack of originality, the lack of tunes or just the fact that they're about as edgy a hip hop act as your mother would like. "Karma Hotel" and "Things I've Seen" excepted, the remainder of the set just lacks that vital extra to take them to the next level. As someone who's travelled the length and breadth of blighty seeing Ice T, Dead Prez, Ugly Duckling, Kaleef and countless hip hop heroes Spooks are nothing more than the kids on the corner spitting rhymes. Its just goes to show that success doesn't always equal talent.

Alex McCann