KRS One / Immortal Technique: The Ritz, Manchester – live reviewKRS One / Immortal Technique

The Ritz, Manchester

13th June 2013

Louder Than War’s Andy Carrington checks out KRS One & Immortal Technique’s recent Manchester show. This double headliner was billed as celebrating “the fortieth anniversary of hip hop” & as such it promised great things – read on to see why, in our man’s opinion, it delivered for the most part.

Immortal Technique brought his usual angry, politically charged rhymes with the support of Akir, Hasan Salam and DJ Static; while KRS-One stood confidently by himself at the front of the stage spitting classics such as ‘Black Cop’ and ‘Criminal Minded’, wearing a woolly Jamaican hat and scarf.

Being a long time fan of both Tech and KRS I made sure I reserved my position near the front of the crowd long before the main acts were due on stage. Support came aplenty, beginning with a short performance from a punjabi emcee (who is currently involved with the likes of Klashnekoff in the UK hip hop scene, I hear), and ending with a ferocious set from talented Jersey-bred emcee Hasan Salaam.

Somewhere in-between, there was some really horrible crunk-type music from a group I can’t remember the name of, but I spent most of this time queuing up at the bar for drinks, so I can’t complain too much. By the time Tech came to the stage just before nine, I was back in prime position, about to witness another impressive live performance from the Harlem legend in the heart of Manchester, with the crowd appearing as though it was really up for it.

Renditions of ‘The 4th Branch’ and ‘Harlem Streets’ were definite standouts; as was the always-chilling ‘Dance With The Devil’, which gave way to an incredibly powerful speech about rape and the need for men to “step up” and stop it from happening. Wearing a t-shirt that read “No human being is illegal”, Technique was keen to leave a lasting impression upon the crowd with his words, and with another speech about the recent Woolwich murder soon following, he was met with great cheers and loud applause.

The KRS-One reception didn’t seem as jubilant to me, and the emcee’s attempts to involve the crowd with his lyrics mostly went un-met. KRS looked rather disappointed judging by his facial expressions on a couple of occasions, and he seemed to be trying really hard to identify the “real hip hop heads” in the crowd. Going as far as calling up local b-boys to participate in his set, the end result saw just two young lads making it to the stage, with a girl in an incredibly short skirt being told to go away for having “no self-respect”.

A number of autographed tennis balls were thrown out to try and involve the crowd that bit more, but it felt like the majority of the crowd was more interested in Immortal Technique than KRS-One. I felt for the latter -especially as he’s one of my biggest inspirations and most talented, longest-standing artists to have come out of hip hop- and myself, and a few other avid fans, did our best to cheer him on.

Disappointingly, there was no collaborative effort between Technique and KRS, which I anticipated would happen beforehand (granted, the two artists are yet to do a song together, but I at least expected a joint freestyle / something similar). That said, KRS’s final speech about the importance of women -which followed on from his “self-respect” comments about the female in the crowd earlier- was truly inspirational, and rounded off a really good night overall.

All words by Andy Carrington. This is Andy’s first piece for Louder Than War. He has his own blog which you can find HERE.

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