De La Soul at Albert Hall, Manchester: Review 02.03.17

By Manchester's Finest | 10 March 2017

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I popped into town for a special midweek gig, courtesy of ‘De La Soul’ who formed part of the highly influential ’Native Tongues’ Afrocentric music movement nearly thirty years ago.

Up first, on warm up duties and representing Manchester hip-hop, was ‘The Mouse Outfit’. Dr. Syntax and Sparx were supporting the band on vocal duties and wasted no time getting the crowd warmed up hitting us with some sick beats early on. The boys are not messing about and encourage the crowd to get involved and shake a leg.

The set quickly drifts though many different styles and you can tell there is definitely a big jazz influence in certain songs, which I found fitting quite well, considering the headline act.

Dr. Syntax and Sparx complement each other very well despite having different styles. Sparx has a cheeky, up for it, no-nonsense and fast pace. On the other hand, Dr. Syntax may not be as fast but has very clever lyrics with an incredible flow. After the half way mark of their set they take it in turns to do a couple of their own solo songs before being accompanied on stage with one of their friends, ‘Dubble O’.

He has a very powerful and intense flow, delivering his lyrics with a punch and precision. The band played with a very good choice of some of their most favourite MCs who provided a good blend of party, jazzy and straight talking UK hip-hop. Their final song with the lyric ’Shake Your Maracas’ sums the set up well – unpredictable but good times.

Up next an alternate DJ (didn’t catch his name) walked on to the stage and let the crowd know that Maseo/Plug 3 (1/3 of De La Soul) was unable to make it so he was stepping in. Not a great start but the substitute put in a solid performance and helped out a bit on the mic also.

As the show continued you could tell that Posdnuos and Dave know each other inside and out and still enjoy touring, having a laugh after all these years, which is great to see.

Shortly after this the remaining 2/3 of De La Soul, Posdnuos (sporting a ‘Dismaland ‘jumper) and Dave Bowl are up on to the stage with the crowd giving a them a big cheer. It is plain to see from the outset that this set will be a cheeky affair when they enjoy some banter with the ‘people sat up top who look like they sat watching a movie or something’. They then take it upon themselves to get the crowd into action and more vocal in their support by taking sides with a bit if hip-hop to and fro-ing.

After the crowd is firmly in the palm of their hands, the DJ drops in a very big song – ‘Ooooh feat. Redman’ (although minus Redman, obviously). This goes down very well and the room is now a sea of bouncing hands fully in the air.

After a quick succession of some lesser known songs they treat us to feel good song ‘Eye Know’. As the show continued you could tell that Posdnuos and Dave know each other inside and out and still enjoy touring, having a laugh after all these years, which is great to see.

The boys then announce that they have a very special guest – Dres from ‘Black Sheep’ (a man who used to always get the ladies back in the day, apparently). The De La boys then assist him delivering the massive hip-hop anthem ‘The Choice Is Yours’ (the song used for the sample ‘engine engine number 9…’ in the annoying Fatman Scoop hit). After another Black Sheep song, a brief choreographed sit down with Dres and him receiving an open water bottle back at him after throwing it into the crowd, which he laughed off well, De La Soul finish off with their Grammy award winning ‘Feel Good Inc.’ (made with Gorillaz for anyone living under a rock). One of the biggest songs of the night has the crowd bouncing along and, for once, actually singing along too!

The crowd are yelling and screaming for more when they walk off stage and after a minute they oblige and return for one more big hit – ‘Ring Ring Ring (Hey How Ya Doing)’.

A great show and one of my favourite hip-hop gigs that I have been too in Manchester. It’s not often US hip-hop legends grace our city and I have been let down by previous performances of other acts in years gone by so thank you to both De La Soul and The Mouse Outfit for re-igniting my faith and love of hip-hop.