A packed out O2 Academy in Glasgow is the venue of choice for Killer Mike and El-P’s final stop on a mammoth eleven month tour. After dropping ‘Run The Jewels 3’ last Christmas Eve – three weeks early and absolutely free – they’ve ridden the waves of jubilation around the globe, stopping by Bellahouston Park last summer to support Eminem before returning to the Dear Green Place to close the curtain on an incredible year.
Storming out the gates on both occasions with banger-par-excellence ‘Talk To Me’, they send another seismic shock out into the sea of Jewel Runners who’ve crammed in to the O2’s vast hall to give them their rightful send off. All the way to the back, the energy of their industrial, anarchic beats and ferocious lyrics ripple through the raised arms of their pistol-and-fist throwing fans, massing towards the stage and culminating in the frenzy of limbs and love that thrashes ecstatically at its edge. El-P makes beats that sound like the last party at the cyberpunk apocalypse and skips from punchline to punchline like a lyrical Ali, while man-mountain Mike delivers perfectly distilled rap braggadocio in the thunderous tones of a pissed-off demi-god. Between the pounding sounds of tracks from their latest like ‘Call Ticketron’ and ‘Don’t Get Captured’, and earlier tracks they’ve had years to hone into pure audio cocaine like ‘Oh My Darling Don’t Cry’ and ‘Blockbuster Night Part 1’, they could play nothing but bangers and walk away while the place burns down behind them, knowing no-one does it better.
And in the course of the night, they do deliver each one and the crowd explodes anew every time. But the revered rap duo are about more than that. Drake hit the headlines recently when he told an audience member to back off from a woman he was harassing. Kudos, of course. Mike and El have been doing that for a while now, interjecting after their opening shockwave to lay out some basic rules. They advise on how to crowdsurf safely. They back the moshers up a little when they’re getting too close to the guard rail. They make it clear that anyone getting unwantedly handsy will not last long. When they say that “We are a community and we take care of each other” that goes beyond the walls of tonight’s gig. They lament lost friends and encourage people who are struggling to talk to someone. They offer a system of ethics that’s been hardened by real life, a morality uncovered in strip clubs and smoke clouds. It’s a million miles from the cleaned-up platitudes of leaders who speak from a life too couched in privilege and politics to offer anything real. It’s an honour code that gets dark and gets dirty, and then shines brighter because of it.
This is the ethos that comes through when they move in to the more world-wearied sounds of ‘A Report to Shareholders’ or the pained remembrances of ‘Thursday in the Danger Room’. Sure, the live renditions beat louder, sounds rougher, have some of the war-chant flavour required to sound out to a major venue crowd, but the sentiment is in no way lost, just transformed. Played through headphones, in a room alone, ‘Thursday in the Danger Room’ is sombre reflection. Heard amongst a bouncing crowd of thousands, it’s an act of communal tribute to those lost and a pulsating promise to carry on with their stories in our hearts.
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Musically, Run The Jewels are at the very top of what they do. They have all the technical skill and experience to be good artists but it’s the way they marry it to their values and use it to channel their battle-worn, invulnerably compassionate spirit that makes them great. 2017 will go down as the year when their crowd of Jewel Runners swelled its ranks like never before. Deft and defiant, this night in Glasgow formed the perfect tribute to all they have achieved in the last year and all they continue to stand for.
The evenings full setlist…
Talk to Me
Legend Has It
Blockbuster Night Part 1
Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
Don’t Get Captured
Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix)
Nobody Speak @Cover[efa2c11a-1a35-4b60-bc1b-66d37de88511]
Pew Pew Pew intro
Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)
Hey Kids (Bumaye)
A Report to the Shareholders
Thursday in the Danger Room
A Christmas Fucking Miracle
Run the Jewels
‘Run The Jewels 3’ is available now via Run The Jewels, Inc.