Opening a new chapter in his career without long term musical partner Dan Le Sac, Scroobius Pip is back out on the road this time showcasing the wares of his Speech Development label. At the beginning of the night, however, there can be little doubt that the majority of the crowd were here for the boss, a indication of the loyal following he has built up on both sides of the Irish sea. He’s happy to meet his public, tending the merchandise table and providing an all-too-brief spoken word intro comprising some greatest hits (including fan favourites ‘Magician’s Assistant’ and ‘You Will See Me’) we enter the first act proper of the night, warrenpeace. The duo use guitars and heavy synth bass to make hair vibrate and tinnitus inevitable, especially during vocalist Buddy Peace’s howling down the mic during choruses. Despite the initial diplomatic crowd reaction, their kinetic display of guitar riffs and a stenographer-like ferocity at the drum machine seems to win over many as the set goes on, augmented by onstage collaborations with Pip and singer Natasha Fox, followed by a Dizzee Rascal cover closer making this one of the most surprisingly impressive parts of the entire night.
After another brief DJ set by Pip – acting more like a breather for the crowd than a legitimate act – it’s time for headliner B Dolan. For the first time on a European tour he is accompanied by a full band, including warrenpeace themselves. With a decent chunk of the label now on stage, this alliance of performers acts as more than the sum of their parts. Dolan practically leans into the audience as he brandishes new tracks from his forthcoming EP and past hits, though is also comfortable momentarily standing back as others command attention. With a more established catalogue behind him the crowd find it easier to relate, especially during old favourites like ‘Bleed Your Customer’ and ‘Film the Police.’ Dolan also shows he is a person who knows how to have fun with his crowd; highlights included an impromptu hip-hop dance-off with a member of the crowd and asking for the entire stage to be lit by only the crowd’s phones, obliged by all.
At this point the final appearance by Pip for their 2011 collaboration ‘Soldier Boy (Kill em)’ feels more of an unneeded cherry on an already satisfying cake. All the acts of the evening can certainly rest easy knowing that attention at the merch table is far more distributed after the show ends. Pip may bring bring the crowds, but it’s his label that keeps them.
B. Dolan photographed for State by Kieran Frost