Saba At The Academy, Dublin, 15th March 2019
Following his breakout, ‘The Bucket List Project’, Saba cemented his place in the ultra competitive world of hip hop with his vivid and evidently therapeutic album ‘Care For Me’.
The European tour that followed has its penultimate stop in Dublin. There is an air of timid curiosity; how would the softer, more introspective sounds that form the backbone of ‘Care For Me’ translate live? Even those present, years previous for the live rendition of his more buoyant and upbeat ‘Bucket List Project’ are genuinely inquisitive.
Dublin’s own Nealo warms up the crowd with a host of guests such as Molly Sterling and Rusangano Family’s God Knows. The personal experiences laid bare through much of his engaging performance whet the appetite for Saba’s hugely relatable content.
Appearing through the haze Saba grips the attention of everyone with Busy/Sirens. His stage presence and impeccable delivery is reflective of his experience in the Mid-West’s spoken word scene.
Pre-show curiosities of live renditions quickly diminish, with the hook to Broken Girls being barked back relentlessly followed by a back and forth between the Chi Town rapper and the crowd in Calligraphy.
The candid, almost conversational nature of the show continues as the PivotGang head honcho narrates childhood stories relating to Fighter and speaks fondly of his grandparents before performing Smile.
Saba wears the scars of the past on his sleeve and he is aware of the effect this has on his fans. The genuine connection created extends beyond the music and he points out a member of the front row, reminiscing over the doughnuts he gifted him in his last visit to Dublin during ‘The Bucket List’ tour 2 years ago.
Displaying wisdom beyond his years through his intermittent chats between tracks, Saba reverts back to the young man he is throughout the mosh pit inducing tracks Logout and Westside Bound 3. He thanks the crowd, citing the tour as the “Most fun shit” he’s ever done.
The trust developed over the course of the night is hinging on whether he returns to the stage after cries of “one more tune”. The sweat drenched pit erupts as the 808 heavy instrumental to Life blares out. The emphatic end to the show coupled with the fact he is independent confirms his status as a leader of the new school wave of conscious rap.