5th December | O2 Academy

“Teenage girls will always scream at pop stars. This is like The Beatles for our kids’ generation.”

Not exactly sure just how old the nice lady who made this comment to me thought I was, but regardless, her point was well taken. The crowd tonight must be at least two-thirds female, and even my sixteen-year old son comments that he feels old. From the moment that ZieZie strips off his T-shirt during his support set, it is clear that if you don’t like THAT sound, this might not be the place for you.

Not that this is meant to be a negative – far from it. The energy and excitement in this room is absolutely off the charts. It seems like the entire audience knows every single word of Aitch’s back catalogue, which is a hell of a lot of words delivered really freaking fast, and most of ZieZie’s too come to that. In these cynical times, Aitch has captured the imaginations of young fans in a way that very few artists now manage to achieve. In a perfect world, all live shows would have this energy. Maybe a little less screaming though, if we’re being picky.

Aitch gives plenty of evidence tonight on why he provokes such excitement. His 75-minute set is a mixture of his ‘old’ work (as ‘old’ as it can be when the guy is still only nineteen) and cuts from his recent AitcH20 release, and it is all terrific. ‘2 G’s’ bristles with erotic energy, ‘Aeroplane Mode’ is soulful, while the deep bassline of ‘Keisha & Becky’ sees a few moshpits break out. ‘Taste (Make It Shake)’ gets everybody moving. Probably the highlight, though, is the exquisite ‘Straight Rhymez’, still as good a freestyle as you will ever hear anywhere.

Unlike his DJ, who can’t seem to go more than thirty seconds without inanely yelling “olly olly olly,” Aitch is refreshingly free of cliché or boundary. His lyrics are mind-bogglingly clever, like “please someone test me, I’m alright for a white, when I write, I’m a lefty,” and you just find yourself smiling and nodding in admiration. Like Eminem before him, though, it is matched by the delivery. An Aitch rhyme is the vocal equivalent of a Hendrix solo, varied and unpredictable, always exciting.

Above all, though, what stands out about Aitch is that he is so damn likeable. Tonight, he works the crowd expertly, constantly moving from one side of the stage to the other, like a good waiter making sure that all his guests have their glasses topped up. His lyrics imply an arrogant sod, but one gets the sense that this isn’t really him at all; he’s just a guy who enjoys what he does and loves having the opportunity to share it with people, bringing them joy in the process. Even when he is spitting out lyrics like, “put that pussy on a plate, fuck it up and then I skate,” you still find yourself thinking, “well, he’s a little… direct, but Grandma will love him, the cheeky little mite.”

All told, it would be a pretty harsh critic who would deem Aitch to be anything other than totally worthy of his success. A unique voice and a natural entertainer, he is truly a talent for us to treasure.

See the video for ‘Taste (Make It Shake)’ here: