Run The Jewels kept the crowd moving... and moving... and moving
For most acts, walking out onto the stage as Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ plays and nodding along in approval would seem at best presumptuous and at worst catastrophically egotistical. In the hands of Run the Jewels it fits perfectly, as the entire room stands and screams along in unison. It sets a tone for an evening in which fun and igniting the crowd is a central point of the process.
“We’re RTJ and we came to fuck shit up,” EL-P says before DJ Trackstar drops ‘Talk to Me’, an album highlight from ‘RTJ3’ that surprise-dropped on Christmas day. The beat immediately rattles intensely and the bass shakes the room to its core as Killer Mike and EL-P seamlessly glide into and between one another’s words as they crisscross on stage. This is the first instance of the pair performing the new material in the UK and as the breakdown for the song slows down it reignites with the joint rallying cry of “RTJ3 Motherfucker” which sends the crowd into a frenzy for the first of many, many explosive instances.
Sadly, the clarity of the sound means the precision of the words are often lost amongst the overall noise, meaning the political bite that runs through the core of much of the duo’s work becomes a little blurred and between song chat can often be tricky to understand. However, what’s lost in comprehensibility is made up for in fury and intensity.
The new material immediately slots into the prime position left by their first two albums and songs like ‘Panther Like A Panther’ feel like they are destined to have the same longevity of tracks like ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)’, the latter a track which makes the room pop to almost bursting point. The crowd throughout the night really are almost manic, the stage often being filled with tossed shoes, shirts, hats, even socks.
“We understand the feeling of someone bear hugging the planet and running off the edge of a fucking cliff with it,” EL-P says during one of the moments in which he professes to the healing power of music in politically turbulent times. Aside from these chat breaks, the only thing that slows down the bullet train that is RTJ tonight is the closing song ‘Down’. It finishes the evening with a rumbling groove. When Killer Mike and EL-P hug one another at the end of the show it seems apparent they’ve had as much fun as the sweat-soaked audience missing most of their clothes.
Run The Jewels @ Manchester, Albert Hall on Friday 31 March