O2 ABC, Glasgow, September 29
You’ll have noticed there’s still no debut album from Azealia Banks in this world. The hefty six-month delay from the original release date for ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ – now scheduled for February 2013 – makes you wonder if Axl Rose has been giving her advice on delay tactics. And this summer hasn’t been an easy ride for the self-styled ‘Young Rapunzel’. There were some so-so festival performances and, most recently, a Twitter war with 22-year-old producer Munchi, who claimed Banks didn’t have permission to use his track on her new single ‘Este Noche’, which subsequently didn’t come out.
So tonight, the second date of Banks’ UK tour, is all about proving her worth. Will the foul-mouthed princess go to the ball? We’ll come to that. First there’s the small matter of a lanky, minimalist rapper gliding across the stage in a gimp mask brandishing a bondage whip while chanting “SEX SELLS”. It’s Zebra Katz, and he’s funny. And avant-garde. Joined by rapper/dancer Njena Reddd Foxxx, he performs a hip-hop set made to soundtrack catwalks from Paris to New York. In ‘Ima Read’ and ‘W8WTF’ he’s got two of the best rap tracks of the year. Tonight, his sparse sound is given a few house licks to prepare the crowd for Azealia Banks to come to the party.
Flanked by four HUGE neon screens, she makes her entrance to a sample of The Prodigy’s ‘Out Of Space’, wearing a flashy, LED halterneck bra decorated with expensive looking crystals. “I’m so happy to be here,” she utters through the widest of grins as the pom-pah-pah-pah-pom beat of ‘Atlantis’ opens up her lyrical flow, allowing her to flourish. Money’s clearly been spent to make this tour an unmitigated success and every moment is carefully orchestrated. There’s even a short costume change halfway through, Banks returning in a new cheerleader-turned-bad outfit for a brilliant ‘Bambi’ and the Hudson Mohawke-produced ‘Jumanji’. The setlist looks like it’s been scrutinised to offer maximum impact – with big-hitting, in-your-face dance tracks ‘Neptune’, ‘Fuck Up The Fun’ and ‘Van Vogue’ front-loading the gig.
Following ‘Liquorice’, Banks hypes the crowd for the song they’ve been waiting for. “This is probably the only reason you guys know who I am,” she says before ‘212’. It’s enormous. With her Mermaid Ball just around the corner, tonight was about Banks putting her cruel summer behind her and stepping into a bright future. This tale looks like it might just have a happy ending after all.