I’m not one for downright negative reviews. In every case I try to focus on the positives and present any criticism in a constructive way. But I suppose there’s a first time for everything, and that first time was last Friday night at Club 601 in St Andrews.
Refreshers Week concluded with what was a hip-hop fan’s wet-dream of a weekend: Wiley playing Friday followed by St. Michael, Big Narstie and Chuck Inglish on Saturday, all in our tiny Fife town. Music fans were excited, but it got off to the worst possible start.
The fiasco began well before Wiley had even got on stage. Arriving in St Andrews in the early evening, he was upset that the gig was “in the middle of nowhere” – this is substantiated by these tweets he made on arrival:
At 9pm the performer decided that the Fife town was too small for his huge talent (read ego) and bailed on the concert, although this was a confirmed sold-out show, to return to Edinburgh.
He was at Edinburgh airport when the event organisers eventually persuaded him back to play. This in-turn pushed the set times back and meant that support act, Subtronics, had to play for an extra hour.
When he finally arrived on stage, paying fans were treated to an unprofessional and slack performance with a set-list comprised exclusively of grime songs from other artists. Not once did Wiley sing a verse or rap a bar of his own. The most coherent thing audible from his mic all evening was his discontent for the lack of booze available on stage.
In sum, the whole night was a glorified JME and Skepta sing along -“Too Many Man” was repeated twice during the set – and the most melodic sound heard all evening came from the fans: a background drone of booing overlaid with chants of “Get the fuck off” was music to everyone’s ears.
Criticism is due where criticism is due, and Wiley deserves that in bucketloads, but praise is also due and there was plenty to be positive about.
The performance should detract nothing from the organisation of the event – it was completely down to the arrogant attitude of the performer. Chris MacRae and the team at The Union continue to do an outstanding job. Their hard work and passion is building the town’s reputation as a serious destination for big name artists and this should be appreciated.
Another stand-out was St Andrews and PressPlay’s very own Kitan who provided a stellar performance behind the decks for both Wiley and Saturday’s performers Big Nartsie and Chuck Inglish. A solid DJ with a pulse on the crowd, you can check him out here.
Support act Subtronics put in the man hours and kept the crowd going even when the whereabouts of the top billed performer was unknown. Their heavy basslines and hype-machine MC provided an energetic and powerful intro to the evening. You can see more of the Musselburgh natives’s work here.
Without a doubt Saturday’s performance of Big Narstie, St Michael and Chuck Inglish showed that the next generation of rappers are hungry, dedicated and willing to put on a show for paying fans even if the washed up oldies aren’t.
Wiley might not care that a small town in Fife booed him off stage, but it was arrogant and disrespectful. If your profession is performance and you are paid to perform, it shouldn’t matter if it’s the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury or a small university in Scotland. Real artists respect their fans wherever and whoever they are.
I, for one, have lost all respect for him and at 37 years old it is clear his career is far behind him. King of Grime or not, this was the most disappointing performance I have ever seen in my life.
Photo: The Saint