CEO Kanya King launched the MOBOS – the first awards show in Europe dedicated to celebrating urban music – in 1996. And with a reputation for obtaining the best homegrown acts for their yearly tour around the UK ever since, this year was no exception.
The penultimate night of the MOBO Live tour was held at the 02 Academy in London’s Islington on Wednesday, February 29. Despite being undoubtedly exhausted from a hectic week circling academies the country over, the acts put on a show that didn’t even hint at it.
Opening the night was West London hailing Cleo Sol who recently signed to Island Records. Customary curly hair in check, Cleo set the mood with single ‘High,’ – strutting up and down the stage as if she owned it – and, indeed – that night, she did. “We party better on a Wednesday night in London than anywhere else on a Saturday,” she said, daring the crowd to prove her wrong.
And if Cleo Sol hadn’t managed to get the party started, P Money certainly did. “You didn’t come here to just stand and stare did you? Do whatever the beat makes you do,” he said, before the upbeat, bouncy production of ‘Come Follow Me’ took over. And with an elocution that was impeccable even when spitting the fastest of bars, P Money then transitioned into his remix of Ed Sheerans ‘Lego House,’ and brand new track ‘Reload.’
Next to the stage was South East London’s Smiler. Opening his set with a refix of House of Pains ‘Jump Around,’ he was soon joined on the stage by Lady Leshurr who featured on his latest single ‘Deloreon’ – taken from recently released mix tape All I Know. “Every time something good happens I like to document it, can I take a picture of this beautiful crowd?” he says, whipping out his phone to do the honours.
“If you get a quiet, polite crowd then be grateful. That’s how the London crowd is,” jokes host Ras Kwame, before almost immediately being proved wrong. Evidently the loudest cheers of the night so far were reserved for the pint sized Lady Leshurr. Oozing energy from her every pore Leshurr prances around the stage like she’s alone in front of her mirror – laughing, dancing, half acting out her witty bars and leaving absolutely no doubt as to why she is compared to – and capturing the attention of – the likes of Busta Rhymes.
Singer/songwriter Josh Osho then flipped the mood with his down tempo, passionate performance. Oft-described as the UK’s answer to John Legend, the star in the making sat, guitar astride his lap and wowed the crowd with tracks the likes of ‘Heaven needs a hotel,’ ‘Redemption Days,’ ‘SOS’ and anthemic track ‘Giants.’ Passion getting the best of him Josh pulls goofy faces, words seemingly ripped out of him as the crowd erupts.
Scottish DJ-turned-singer Yasmin is the penultimate act of the night, and next to take to the stage. Performing tracks ‘On My Own,’ the Labrinth produced ‘Finish Line’ and the Ms Dynamite assisted ‘Light Up The World’ she sidles around the platform, soft voice well suiting the house-like tracks. With the crowd relatively unresponsive, however, the performance registered as bland.
“This one is straight energy people. If you want to stand in the middle, there might be some diving. When you see the mandem dive, move back,” jokes Ras Kwame in his introduction of headliners Clement Marfo and the Frontline. “Home sweet home, London town! Are you ready to be entertained tonight?” booms Clement Marfo before performing ‘Us against the world,’ ‘Survivors,’ ‘Champion’ and latest single ‘Overtime,’ – for which Ghetts joins them on the stage. The seven piece collective ooze passion and energy, with frontman Clement spinning, jumping and running along the length of the platform throughout while Kojo‘s [who Clement introduces as the ‘black Pavarotti’] forever impressive vocals resonate around the room.
“For those of you who haven’t been to a CMTF show… we stage dive, we mosh pit, we throw water… we don’t give a fuck,” says Clement, before fulfilling Ras Kwame’s prophecy and jumping head first into the crowd, with an exciting end to an impressive night.