Breathing Tornados

Suffering from a lack of "hypeness" is one thing. Making your fans suffer is quite another...

Will-I-Am stops waving his arms for a moment and eyes the crowd. “We is suffering from a lack of hypeness,” he says, not unreasonably, as he surveys the half-empty Empire before begging it to “make some motherf–ing noise”.

He didn’t have to play the sympathy card, but he has a point. This is the LA crew’s second appearance in London following the acclaimed coffee table hip-hop of their ‘Behind The Front’ autumn debut and, given that the rest of the world has gone mildly Peas crazy, they’d be forgiven for thinking that here in Britain we just can’t get enough of their tediously polite hip-hop-lite fare.

In fairness, what they lack on record they make up for onstage, their extrovert personalities and showmanship a welcome distraction from the predictable sub-[a]Jamiroquai[/a] funk indulgence of their six-piece band. There’s Will, the serious one who will later lecture us on the roots of hip-hop in a bid to prove the Peas are, like, 4 Real. There’s Taboo, the handsomely equine, long-haired Latino love interest, and the back-flipping Apl De Ap, who first appears wearing an ice bucket for a hat. He’s bonkers, you know.

Not yer traditional slouching, sour-mouthed hip-hoppers, then, although BEP are intent on stating their hip-hop credentials. Because between every hands-in-the-air funk marathon like ‘Joints & Jam’ and ‘Heads Bob’, we’re informed that they’re “from the old skool” or are, incredibly, “like future B-Boys, grown up’n’shit”. And maybe they are, it’s just that their raps about how great they are and what a marvellous time they’re having are difficult to take seriously coming from three guys whose proudest achievement tonight involves that most hideous device, audience participation.

Suffering from a lack of “hypeness” is one thing. Making your fans suffer is quite another. The vibes, then: less old-skool block party, more rubbish dinner party.