The previously secret venue for the iLL Manors OST launch party turned out to be the car park on Great Suffolk Street, London. I’d never heard of the place but I was assured it was a great venue for ravers. Upon arriving you could tell there was plenty of money put into the event, I’ve never seen so many projectors in my life. The first you notice is the album cover projected onto the huge wall of a warehouse, whilst queuing to get in. I failed to spot any celebrities beforehand except for Keith Coggins (Kirby in iLL Manors), who even though he was dressed up in an expensive suit, looked like a crackhead.
As soon as you get into the venue you have on the first left, the bar, and the flashiest portable toilets I’ve ever been in. The iLL Manors film was also projected onto the wall opposite the bar, behind the bar itself there were signs reading “OI RICHBOY CASH ONLY BAR”, I thought that was a simple but brilliant touch. Under the next archway there was the stage and another bunch of projectors, 2 on each side of the wall, which over the course of the show would display clips from the film and footage from the gig.
The show kicked off with the brilliant Faith SFX warming up the crowd with some truly awesome beatboxing. This is when you get the idea that a lot of people didn’t realise that this would be a Hip-Hop gig and not the soulful singing from the Defamation Of Strickland Banks. Plan B came out to the roar of the crowd and went straight into ‘I Am The Narrator’, which is the intro song from the iLL Manors movie. Plan B was a brilliant entertainer during the show, he has a great stage presence and his interaction with the hype men, backing vocalists and band members, gave off the vibe that everyone was in it together equally. He played nearly every track from the album, with all the guest appearances. Takura was on stage for the vocals for ‘Drug Dealer’, the brilliant Labrinth joined Etta Bond on stage for ‘Playing With Fire’, and punk poet John Cooper Clarke was at hand for ‘Pity The Plight’. I was surprised when I saw Kano as a feature on the album but he always adds great energy to any live set, and he didn’t disappoint when he came out for ‘Live Once’. During the set there were clips shown from the film before certain tracks, the look of shock on the faces of much of the crowd proved that many were unaware of what the film and album were about. It was disappointing to see what little research into Ben Drew’s career was conducted by the industry heavy crowd.
At the end of the set Plan B dropped the album’s title track ‘iLL Manors’ and it shook the foundations, the fans at the front went nuts and started moshing and the industry heads at the back looked concerned for their safety and just nodded awkwardly to the beat. Plan B walked off the stage whilst Faith SFX kept the crowd warm for the encore. Plan B came back out to perform the Chase & Status assisted ‘Pieces’, the light show was enough to give anyone an epileptic fit, and the sound was deafening. You could barely hear the vocals at points, but you would hear the shouts from the stage “Where’s the mosh pit? Where’s the mosh pit?” Anyone who has been to a Chase & Status gig will recognise that part. Next up was “Stay Too Long”, which had the best response from the crowd as they were now safe from all the ‘Urban’ music. It was a truly great performance and Plan B looked exhausted, but still managed to bang out a repeat of ‘iLL Manors’ to close the show.
The whole show is available on YouTube (I believe), and if you haven’t already, go and watch the film and go and buy the album. Both are an excellent representation of the talents of one of the UK’s great entertainers. Plan B is headlining a night during the iTunes Festival, I’d recommend entering to win tickets because he puts on an amazing live performance.