Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Robbing the Banks

It will probably take most reviewers longer than Azealia Banks was onstage in Whelan’s last night to write their reviews of her Irish debut. Then again, did anyone who paid their money and took their chances on the next big …

Tue, Feb 7, 2012, 08:47


It will probably take most reviewers longer than Azealia Banks was onstage in Whelan’s last night to write their reviews of her Irish debut. Then again, did anyone who paid their money and took their chances on the next big thing’s next big thing – the Lana Del Rey you won’t hear on mainstream radio (yet) – really expect anything more than Banks, her DJ and a short, snappy, punchy set of half-a-dozen bangers done and dusted within half an hour, a show which was more club PA than gig? There was far more surprise in the news from Thurles last night than anything that happened on Wexford Street.

This was always going to be the hype show, the fun gig you could crow about seeing when she blows up later in the year. That’s the way the event gig meme goes. And we’ve been here before. In fact, roughly a year ago, we were actually in the exact same spot with Mona, a band who ended the same year playing an under-the-radar student show in the city and licking their wounds when they didn’t turn into the Kings of Leon.

Will Banks go the same way? At this stage, it’s anyone’e guess. We all know “212″, that brilliantly bolshie rudegirl banger delivered over Lazy Jay’s “Float My Boat” and that’s a hit. Going on the lusty way the crowd sang along with that (and, surprisingly, a couple of other tunes too), Banks has shizzle which could be converted into gold when the Paul Epworth-produced album lands later in the year. Yes, this could finally be the year when someone who tips the hat to Yo Majesty, Neneh Cherry and wisecracking, voguing downtown NYC trannies is what it takes to make a hit act.

Mind, and this is not going to surprise anyone, she’s still got a long way to go on the gig front. The sassy, hardchaw, tough-talking, don’t-mess-with-me-bub attitude works well in the context of a mobbed Monday night at Whelan’s, but take it up a notch and that alone is not really going to fly. It’s difficult at this stage – especially when there’s no album to judge matters – to see how the show will be bulked up, but it will happen. If this is going to work, it can’t be just Banks and the hyperactive, jiggerbug DJ Cosmo on that stage.

The question, though, is if it will work. We’ve had filthy-mouthed female rappers before and we’ve had more Princess Superstars than Nicki Minajs in terms of any crossover in that regard. Right now, Banks has game thanks to “212″, but she needs half-a-dozen more of those jams to retain the heat. Perhaps Lazy Jay has a few more grooves hanging around for her to get on? After all, going on what we heard last night, Banks and co are fans of pumped-up, jumped-up funky-dunky slammers, but these need to be more distinctive than Diplo rejects to make a splash.

For now, though, it’s thumbs up for Banks. Last night was big fun, a giddy night out with the belle of the moment. A sign of the times that more and more promoters are going to cop on to is that there’s a big market here as elsewhere for catching the hot, rising acts before they come to the boil or start to simmer. You don’t need the old tools – the radio hits, the old-school press spin, the posters on every wall – to sell out a show if the act is as hot as this. The temperature may well have changed next time around, but last night’s done and dusted and Banks most definitely got a result.

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