He’s the only rapper ever to mention both Ruud Van Nistelrooy and the eating of brisket in the space of two lines. His vocal timbre sounds so similar to that of Ghostface Killah that even Ghostface Killah has gotten confused. He is alone amongst the rising stars of contemporary hip-hop in hosting his own food show (the excellent Fuck, That’s Delicious plays on VICE).
Action Bronson is a lot of things, but he’s hardly conventional. Mr Baklava himself rolled into Dublin’s Academy on Thursday for his first show in the capital since an explosive night at the sadly defunct Twisted Pepper back in 2012. It mightn’t have hit the same sweaty heights as that night further down Middle Abbey Street, but there were surely moments where it came close.
The show gets underway at its own leisurely pace. Meyhem Lauren, fellow New York MC and a personal friend of Bronson’s, takes to the stage a good 40 minutes later than advertised. Less recognisable to the average Irish rap fan than the man they came to see, Lauren puts in a decent shift. Equally at home over bass-laden beats or out on his own, he works through his catalogue to an appreciative reception, pausing at one point to down a pint of Guinness a punter had gotten from the bar at his request.
Bronson’s back-up man DJ Alchemist, starts what seems to be the second listed support act but the crowd doesn’t seem to pay much attention and are just getting into it when Bronson bounds on stage halfway through the second track, powers into Brand New Car, and the place erupts.
Bronson’s current world tour is in support of his major label debut, ‘Mr. Wonderful’. The album has been seen in some quarters as, if not quite a let-down, definitely a step-down from the edge and unashamed eccentricity of his earlier ‘Blue Chips’ and ‘Dr. Lecter’ mixtapes.
Even his detractors will admit though that atop a pulsing stage is where Bronson has always been most at home, and his show tonight proves the point. Racing mainly through new tracks but including choice numbers from his catalogue, he strides around the stage as if in full knowledge of his position at the head of a growing cult.
Unlike those shows where the shape-throwing and lyric-yelling is confined to an area surrounding the stage, The Academy raises its arms as one for lengthy parts of the performance. The respect and admiration Bronson is held in is obvious. His lyrical inventiveness, his machismo and his pure volume would win over any doubters, if the room had contained any.
He sparks joints on stage and passes them back to the crowd, while Alchemist puffs away for most of the show behind him. Brilliantly, the ex-chef bends down at one point between songs to appreciate the packet of Scottish smoked salmon someone has tossed on stage. Only in Ireland, wha?
He leaves no one in doubt of either his energy or his skill as he reels through the highlights of ‘Mr Wonderful’ and his greatest hits from the period beforehand. Amadu Diablo and Strictly 4 My Jeeps from ‘Blue Chips’ and ‘SAAAB Stories’ are among those keeping the temperature up.
Meyhem Lauren returns to the stage for a couple of joint verses and a raucous reception. Easy Rider and the comparatively massive Baby Blue are yelled out with abandon by anyone with air left in their lungs.
And then, as suddenly as it began, Bronson’s performance comes to an end. Little more than an hour after it had begun despite choruses of Bronson! Bronson! And a heartier than normal rendition of ‘One More Tune’.
Action Bronson was loud, sweaty, and aggressive the essential ingredients for a great rap gig.