Let the records state that we’re not huge fans of sit down gigs, especially where hip hop is concerned. It was a relief then the the first thing that both JGivens and Christon Gray did at their London show was to bring the audience to the front of the stage.
This wasn’t a night of formalities and ‘excuse me, these are my nicest shoes’. It was about getting up close and personal with the artists and it was all the better for it.
Christon Gray in particular was a man of the people. He wasn’t afraid to get the audience involved. That didn’t just mean singing along, it meant getting on stage and dancing with him. In fact, at one point, for Superdave, one of our favourite Christon Gray songs, he recruited audience members to be his air band. He even gave solos to his air guitarist, drummer and bassist. It was a lot of fun and the smiles were all there to see.
Gray started off his set with some of his older material. A sing along to The Last Time was followed by other hits from School of Roses and Even With Evil In Me. The second half of his set was mostly made up of Glory Album tracks including Fort Knox and My Love Is Real. But even here, however, he threw in some of his older tracks including Wanna to switch things up.
Christon Gray showed off his versatility during his set. One minute his was singing his R&B numbers at the centre of the stage, another he was spitting bars and showing he’s more than a capable rapper, then he was sitting his piano leading worship with tracks such as Nowhere and a cover of How He Loves Us. It was great to see him working with a band (not just the imaginary crowd sourced one) as it allowed the musicality of the tracks to come through.
There were times when both Christon Gary and JGivens took to the stage together but before that, Givens did his solo set.
JGivens flies high
JGivens’ music isn’t usually known as being about the turn up bangers, it’s more about the lyricism and the vibe. That didn’t stop him giving his everything on the stage. He got the crowd rocking from the early going with some of his uptempo tracks such as JackPot but even when he took it down a notch with the likes of Fly Exam and Super Lowkey there was still plenty to keep the crowd invested. This was our first time seeing JGivens – it was his first visit to London. We now know this, he has fantastic stage presence. He wasn’t just rapping, he was almost acting out his tracks like it were a stage play. We loved it.
The show was also the first time we saw Kat Deal live. The Londoner was one of the two support acts. Sporting her trademark extravagant makeup, her set included a cover of Kirk Franklin’s Smile and Staring Back at Me. The night kicked off with JayEss giving a trio of hip hop tracks, including old favourite Intoxicated with Deborah.
Nights like this don’t happen every day in the UK so it was great that Zion Promotions put the event on. The audience was really appreciative of what was on offer. Many had bought their tickets when the only Stateside act on the bill was the main headliner. Having JGivens on the show as well as quite a bonus. We’re looking forward to more high calibre events like this in 2017.