Tinie Tempah made a big splash when he popped up from the grime underground in 2010. The man born Patrick Okogwu won Brits and received a Mercury nomination for his double platinum debut album, Disc-Overy, as well as playing against type by addressing the Oxford Union and taking tea at Claridge’s on Newsnight.
Now comes his chance to firm up his position as one of the decade’s most interesting musicians with a new album, out in November, and this first headlining show showing its wares. As befitting its unpredictable maker, the sound was all over the place.
Don’t Sell Out suited its title, a minimal collection of awkward beats and no tune hummable enough for the charts. The comeback single, Trampoline, was catchier in its way but just as strange, made from hammering beats and chanting.
“From old to new to new to old,” he kept saying, mixing favourites with fresh ones and other people’s songs on which he appeared, such as Calvin Harris’s dance monster Drinking from the Bottle. That and his own dancefloor eater, Miami 2 Ibiza, received some of the liveliest responses, though it looks like he is leaving that omnipresent style behind now.
Rough guitar was more dominant on Five Minutes, which recalled American rap-rock but still managed to reference Jeremy Clarkson. Moshpit was even harder, a shouty brute that features Dizzee Rascal on record.
Tinie talked about idolising Dizzee as a 12-year-old and there was much inspiration speak about working for your dreams. Yet despite his shades and leather shorts he didn’t act the star, bringing on his manager to give him a birthday cake and a touching speech. As he finished with a confetti explosion and Pass Out, a song simply about getting drunk and falling over, everyone could relate to this particularly British pop phenomenon.