LivePLAY: Angel Haze, Heaven, London, 11/03/2014

We’ve been to a lot of gigs in our time. Some memorable (hi Beyonce), some so disappointing that they’ve actually put us off going back to the original record. The latter would have been quite an awful option for us in the case of Angel Haze, given how we practically creamed over Dirty Gold and its guerrilla release back in December.

When Haze’s debut record was released, it felt like the liberation of an artist who had been severely constricted both personally and professionally. So it’s wholly unsurprising that she puts her absolute all into this live performance – right from her DJ who spins jam after jam to mobilise the crowd into a Haze-ready frenzy (although the sound of Drake rapping is still akin to listening to a microwave), it’s obvious that this is a show crafted with great care.

There’s the fist-pumping opener, Echelon (It’s My Way). Things slow down in the right places with Black Dahlia (thank God, as losing our shit was becoming exhausting), then speed up again with the blistering A Tribe Called Red. Even calling up a member of the public to ‘serenade’ with One Republic‘s Counting Stars remains distinctly un-cheesy in the hands of Angel Haze.

What translates from studio to stage is the passion. Haze spits bars full of brimstone without missing a beat or breath, and even manages to show off her admirable vocal chops with an acoustic version of Planes Fly. A Drunk In Love cover later, and it’s time for an encore – New York still brings the house down, and current single Battle Cry gives Haze the chance to surprise the audience at the back of the venue. That’s right, even a place like Heaven gets its own B-stage with this one.

It’s that kind of fervour that simply wins you over. There’s sometimes a lot of snobbery around Angel Haze, about her brand of rap and its association with commercial pop, about her album being over-produced. To those critics: watch just a single song at one of her live gigs. If you can find a more passionate performer or a more charismatic firebrand feminist than Angel Haze, we’d very much like to know who that is. As it stands, however, everyone else should be taking notes from this girl on how to deliver a show to remember.

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