Me, beaming: “What’d you think?”
Him: “Yeah, it was good.”
Me: “Definitely a contender for gig of the year for me!”
Him, surprised: “Really?”
Me: “Yeah, I mean, for the sheer graciousness and connection and joy. I mean, all-ages shows like this don’t happen very often. The kids knew literally every lyric to every single song and shouted them back to him. Do you know how many times you have to listen to an album like that to be able to spit all those words on the beat, back? On REPEAT. FOR EVER. And I don’t fucking blame them. That album, Psychodrama, is worth every spin – the lyrics are literature. Worth the Mercury Music Prize 10 for sure I’m so here for the expression of life, vulnerability, mental health, and anti-male toxicity.
And from the moment he stepped out on stage to do “Psycho” (with the same intensity he did when he nailed it at the Mercury awards), everyone just went wild. Like, not Taylor Swift, generic-scream-fan wild, but, like, that they were GRATEFUL he was there and that they were there with him. And within seconds, Dave was beaming ear-to-ear. Like, right from the start, after one song, he was, all “Oh my god, Vancouver, this is going to be a special, special show.” He KNEW there was love in the room, but it was more than that, it only just got better. He spent time between tracks, talking about what the songs meant to him, “Streatham” brought Sarf Lahndan to Vancouver, “No Words” was a love-in, and then there was “Black.” Here was this young guy, 21 years old, plays Modie in Top Boy, looking nervous about sitting down in front of the piano he learned to play growing up, asking the crowd to understand that the piano was a place he learned to improve his (incredible) freestyle rap and marry it with music. So if it was alright, he was gonna do it? And sorry if he messed up a few times.
“Look, black is beautiful, black is excellent
Black is pain, black is joy, black is evident
It’s workin’ twice as hard as the people you know you’re better than
‘Cause you need to do double what they do so you can level them,”
And Vancouver was nodding and holding its breath when it wasn’t singing along. And when on the last note, he exhaled, rubbed his head and face, as if he’d just taken another big risk. Man. THAT is bravery, and you don’t see that often in rock shows. Vulnerability? It’s often hidden. Under big moves and big gestures. Not small ones like this.
AND then when it was time to do his AJ Tracey track “Thiago Silva”? That he did a warm up, spitting out those complex verses, then stopped, asking his DJ/manager to identify which three in the audience were best with the lyrics? Amazing. When the winner, a kid called Andrew, was invited up to do the whole song with him, it was epic. After doing a bang-up job of it (which would be, like, sooooper intimidating for anyone and everyone), the kid shook the hand of the sound guy, thanked Dave, graciously thanked everyone there and even did a shout-out to his school and Jesus. And before anyone could groan (they had at the mention of school), Dave told him he had mad respect for him and gave him a huge hug. It was, as they say, a FUCKING MOMENT. Beautiful.
And the guy they also call Santan Dave couldn’t stop smiling. After every song. All the time. Just grinning, ear to ear. He was just SO chuffed the whole time at the amount of love. By the end of it, for “Professor X” and “Funky Friday” (when it all kicked off), you could sort of feel like he felt like this was HUGE. Not just a perfect way to end the tour, it was like he was vindicated in some way for his hard work, for all the drama that led to Psychodrama, that it was it was all worth it. You could read it on his face, I think.
“And to my fans, the reason I could get to this
You’re my drug, the instrument, my therapist
Man, I need some therapy”
I mean, you just don’t see that very often. That’s what makes a gig of the year.”
Him: “Well, when you put it that way.”\m/