Wretch 32 – Norwich Waterfront, 30/10/2011

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Jermaine Scott a.k.a Wretch 32 came to Norwich Waterfront to perform his charting second album (his debut went almost completely under the radar back in 2008) ‘Black and White’ to a sell-out crowd.

With a handful of singles from the album, including recent UK number one ‘Don’t Go’, shooting to the top of the charts, Wretch 32 has made a stunning transition from underground grime MC to household name in a matter of months.

The first thing that strikes you when watching him perform is how happy he is to be there, genuine gratitude in abundance. Of course, his success has been helped in part by collaborating with artists like Example, Chipmunk and Ed Sheeran, to name a few, but his live presence has also had a huge part to play; Big rock-sounds (from Wretch’s impressive band) accompany his urban style and an ability to perform acoustically (a skill few grime artists can claim to possess) complete the package.

The set-list for the night was comprised entirely of tracks from ‘Black and White’ bar one which left the crowd satisfied having heard every hit on the album.  Two tracks in and Wretch delivered one of his best known tracks ‘Unorthodox’ which was quickly followed by ‘Long Way Home’ and ‘I’m Not The Man.’ The energy of the performance inside the Waterfront (which now resembled a sardine-tin, fans packed front-to-back and edge-to-edge) was non-stop as he owned the stage.

The chart-topping ‘Don’t Go’ soon followed and had the crowd in collective voice but the highlight of the night, which proves that Norwich is still in the grip of Ed Sheeran-mania, was the performance of Hush Little Baby. As Ed’s verse began the man himself bounded on stage (the stage that he sold out for 3 consecutive nights earlier in the year), instantly recognised by everyone in the room amidst a roar of excitement.

The night concluded with Wretch 32’s first real hit, ‘Traktor’ and once again the audience were in full voice until the very end. Wretch 32 is an acquired taste, his slow, methodical style, mix ‘n’ match of genres (everything from grime, pop, acoustic, dubstep and soul) and collaboration-heavy nature makes ‘Black and White’ more of a mixtape than a solo artist’s record. However it’s that versatility that makes his live shows so enjoyable.

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