About six years ago I remember smoking (underage and illegally, like a boss) on a garden wall (also, like a boss) and emphatically telling a friend that Plan B was a genius. He was an East Londoner like me, and following in the footsteps of other local boys done good, Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, seemed to have the smarts and passion to make him a real star in my neighbourhood, whose only real claim to fame was its street-level collection of empty fried chicken boxes. Much like Dizzee and Wiley, Plan B has now reached stardom, but his suit-wearing, sanitised social commentary, crooner-schmultz that has made him a favourite of Dads who drive Mondeos and wear jeans that pretend not to be boot cut (but definitely are) has left a lot of us feeling somewhat disappointed.
Last week I went to see Django Django support Plan B at a Mercury Music Prize award gig. It was the first time I had seen Django live since I fell for them at an acid-party a year ago, and found myself hugging the speakers whispering ‘you understand’ into the iPod. This time, I was sober, but it was a bad trip. All around, there they were, the Mondeo men, in their flared trousers, clutching protectively their high-heeled hens (stilettos, to a gig, but why?) staring at the band with no movement. I still can’t work out if the band I wanted so much to see were flat/the venue acoustics bad, or if the overpowering smell of Hugo Boss Sport from the crowd meant that the neurotransmitters in my brain had become numb. But despite playing the hits, it all felt a bit stale to me.
Plan B has now reached stardom, but his suit-wearing, sanitised social commentary, crooner-schmultz that has made him a favourite of Dads who drive Mondeos and wear jeans that pretend not to be boot cut
Needless to say everyone looked lively when the main man arrived and I scarpered quick-smart. In defence of the promoters, the event was being filmed (for Mondeo men with iPhones probably), and it was a free ticket affair. By mere numbers, the act that goes to No.1 will draw the biggest audience, so it could never have been billed as anything but a Plan B gig rather than a Mercury Music Prize shindig. But isn’t that exactly what Mercury Prize is in and of itself? An ego-massage tool for established artists and an often damaging accolade for everyone else? I’m still not convinced.
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