Totally Board - Castlefield Arena - 13.10.01

Its not even about the music. Its almost as if its become secondary to the main event and that's despite the fact that we have Run DMC, Spooks and Mark B & Blade on the bill. Today the name spreading round the venue is a certain Jenny Jones and I feel almost ashamed to admit it but I haven't a clue who she is. Apparently she's one of the Female Snowboarding champs of the world but is it just me or is Jenny Jones a second rate chat show host perhaps ranking lower that Vanessa or Trisha could ever hope for.

First up on the main stage are Brit-hoppers Mark B & Blade. Flying the flag proud and bigging up the hip-hop massive these guys really do deserve more respect than they get. Ok, they may not be original and technically Blade is not the hottest rapper on the block but these guys really do have the tunes to get a party jumping. "The Unknown", "Ya Don't See The Signs" and "Piranha" all classic tracks in an old skool vibe - coming from a time before hip-hop was all about bitches and ho's. Maybe today they didn't blow the place up but slowly and surely they're working the way through every conceivable audience in the country and at the end of the day you've got to applaud a rap act who can support Eminem and Feeder within the space of a month.

Next up are the longest coming / overnight sensation in hip hop - Spooks!!!!!  For some people the reason worth coming and for other people just a second rate Fugees. One things for sure is that they're different than anything out at the moment. Making a change from the normal Spooks live shows, the technicalities of bringing over a live band for one show enable them to get back to the roots of rap music - a pair of decks and a microphone. Hitting it on two different levels they're doing it for the kids and look a bit deeper you'll find a serious message. A message that talked about the problems in America long before the recent terrorist attacks highlighted the issues between the East and the West.

Before the main event Freq Nasty warms up the crowd in only a way that Britain's hottest new DJ can. Run DMC what can you say? The Beatles and Elvis of hip hop and if anyone wants to dispute that I'll take them outside myself. Surprisingly they can still cut it with the best of them (despite the absence of Run) and the love coming from the crowd is just unbelievable. Old Manchester veterans Johnny Jay and Denise Johnson shake their booties while 10 year old kids know every word to "Walk This Way". I can't think of a bigger tribute!!!

Establishing itself as one of the main events in the Manchester calendar Totally Board is here to stay. From the new boys to the veterans they got it spot and that was just the music. Add to that the greatest Skaters and boarders in the world and you have an damn near essential show.

Alex McCann