REVIEW: Plan B, Metro Radio Arena

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AS starts to shows go, you can’t do much better than Labrinth.

The singer, songwriter, producer and all-round talented guy got the crowd going ahead of the headline act with a stomping set featuring Pass Out, Let the Sun Shine and Earthquake.

Here was a show man at the top of his game and I must admit we wanted to see more of this maestro who deserves to be at the top of a bill as opposed to support.

Our disappointment didn’t last long though. Granted, Plan B, real name Ben Drew, doesn’t look like your typical pop star: he’s got more of an everyman look about him. But, there’s something about Plan B. His lyrics are infused with passion and delivered with a fiery intensity that’s hard to find in many other chart-toppers.

Clad in an Oxblood suit, he launched into his set with tracks from his 2010 Number 1 album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks.

A bluesy, soul atmosphere swept through the arena as Plan B’s vocals to tracks such as Love Goes Down boomed through his audience.

For She Said, nifty lighting transformed the stage into a makeshift courtroom in which the star was found guilty of knocking out some great tunes.

This was a show of two halves and while Plan B transformed himself for his Ill Manors section, the audience were treated to the best beat boxing I think I’ve ever heard.

In a feat of vocals, a super impressive beat boxer entertained us with his versions of The White Stripes and the Outhere Brothers, even chucking in a Star Wars light sabre for good measure.

It set the scene as Plan B launched into a change of tempo, costume and setting with tracks from Ill Manors.

An ode to gritty inner city street life, the tracks stood in stark contrast to B’s earlier soul tracks and showcased his versatility.

He belted out Playing With Fire, injecting every word with meaning as scenes of street violence played on the giant screens behind him to the tune of his lyrics about “David Cameron’s broken Britain.”

Testament to his passion for his craft, the star stopped a song mid-way to start again because it didn’t meet his standards.

It was intense, it was heavy, it was slick, it was two Plan B shows for the price of one.

Katy Wheeler

Twitter: @sunechokaty