N-Dubz Review for Listed Magazine 12/08/09

If ever there was a venue built to host an N-Dubz gig, then Bournemouth O2 Academy is it. Its art-deco interior and contemporary neon lights are a clash of modern and vintage that, as a visual metaphor for the Camden trio, is apt. For if you disregard the nylon sportswear and trapper hats, N-Dubz bitter-sweet songs of urban disaffection and strife are evocative of Oliver Twist and the struggle of the underclass.

OK, so their formula may be brash, tacky and a world away from anything Dickens wrote, but as Dappy, the groups’ Keffiyeh-clad front man climbs a speaker to proclaim his remorseful verse from ‘Love For The Slums’, comparing him to the iconic Victorian scamp proves irresistible.

In fact, his theatrical gestures make it clear why some critics have said the MOBO award winners would be better suited to performance art. However, it is N-Dubz’ rough-n-ready urban storytelling that has endeared them to street-savvy teenagers, who themselves have grown sceptical of manufactured pop bands and sugary-sweet love songs.

This cynicism was all too clearly demonstrated when preceding warm-up acts Friction and Fenix had taken to the stage. Their choreographed routines drew stifled applause and later on, N-Dubz seemed keen to distance themselves, Dappy announcing ‘N-Dubz don’t do pop – we keep it raw’ to rapturous applause.

Consequently as Fazer, Tulisa and Dappy powered through break-through hits ‘Feva Las Vegas’, ‘Love For The Slums’ and Chipmunk collaboration ‘Defeat You’, the young crowd sang and rapped along with glee, the live band really energising proceedings with fevered drum solos and rasping guitar riffs.

Executing their set with a youthful unruliness, N-Dubz made it clear why they are held in such high regard by their fans. Frank yet warm, their performance was significant of a new breed of British urban act that is less reliant on stoic gangsta-rap and R’n’B clichés and instead embraces the rebellious attitudes and emotions of teenage audiences.

View online @ http://www.listedmagazine.com



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