The last time Tinie Tempah played the 02 in Dublin it was 2010 and he fared as the opening act for Rihanna’s UK & Ireland tour. This was the same year in which he headlined the UCD Fresher’s Ball. Three and a half years later and time has done a lot for him. Tinie is now one of the most popular British rappers in mainstream music. He is just about to complete the Demonstration Arena Tour (tonight in Dublin being the closing night), he will begin preparing for some of the biggest summer festivals in Europe, having already been added to the line-up of Wireless. Suffice to say that the 25 year old’s star is on the rise.
The venue is not far from full capacity by the time Tinie appears on stage just after 9. There is no escaping it, the crowd are young…very, very young. But they are equally as enthusiastic, the standing area is reminiscent of the Oxegen days of old and, for whatever notions that may evoke, there is a palpable sense of expectation. Thanks, surely, to the average age of the audience, but the warm-up acts have done their job; as only song titles such as ‘Drug Money’ and refrains of “I can’t feel my face” can do.
Tinie is backed by a live band and a DJ / hype man who are dotted around his post-industrial staging. They dramatically kick off the night with one of his more recent singles, ‘Lover not a Fighter’, from the new album, Demonstration. It is immediately followed by ‘Frisky’, a “classic” Tinie Tempah song from his debut album Discovery. This sets the tone for the entire gig as his set list seamlessly intertwines Discovery and Demonstration songs. It becomes increasingly obvious as the show goes on that Tinie has not lost what can be referred to as his sound; both albums appeared to blend naturally with one another. Tinie has also managed to hold onto his natural ability to pop the crowd and has them reacting wildly to pretty much every utterance.
Some new tracks are introduced as well as Tinie taking the time to thank his fans. A lot. Strangely enough he finishes one song containing the instruction “don’t sell out” (literally scrawled in 8 foot lettering across the stage) by introducing ‘Written in the Stars’ with a list of ads and corporations he has licensed the song to. His heart felt assurances about the honesty of the lyrics in subsequent tracks all but demands a mobiles in the air response from the audience.
He may be Tinie by name, but not when it comes to charisma. His thick London accent and appreciative charm appear only to enchant and encourage the crowd constantly over the course of the night. A couple of the artist’s songs already contain reference to the city of Dublin, undoubtedly interchangeable with any other city when required, but for many of those that didn’t he was sure to substitute it in. This was inevitably met with rapturous applause and screams of delight from a youthful crowd. For his performance of the song ‘Tsunami’ (aptly subtitled ‘Jump!’), Tinie had the entire standing area, as well as half of the seated audience, bouncing. The name ‘Earthquake’ has rarely been so adequate for a song but the feeling that comes from a whole venue shaking seems to only generate more riotous pogo-ing.
There can only be one song he is ever going to close the encore with, his breakthrough single from 2010, ‘Pass Out’ The entire arena rise to their feet the moment the first beat is played, singing every line and effectively drowning out Tinie himself. Most people knew what to expect tonight, an energetic and highly entertaining show.