It’s snowing in London on Thursday March 1st 2018, and it’s also the day of south London rapper A2’s sold-out live headline show at KoKo. It’s also slightly unbelievable. Unbelievable why? Because it also snowed on November 30th 2017, the same day that A2 released his debut album ‘Blue’. With a catalogue of tracks aptly named, ‘Winter Winner’, ‘Below Zero’ and ‘Coldest December’, the universal theme of ‘coldness’ has been an aesthetic that A2 has nurtured from the very beginning. The fact that it’s snowed and we’ve had below freezing temperatures on two of his most important dates, can’t be ignored, somehow A2 has caught a cold touch of destiny.
A solitary and mysterious artist who rarely gives interviews, it is A2’s frostiness that has perhaps made his music so chillingly alluring. Todays show is an important one, selling out within days, no matter what the weather, A2 tweeted out the significance of it the night before. Assuring fans that the show would go ahead, he said “I can’t lie, tomorrow CAN NOT be missed for any reason….”.
On the day of the show, not entirely unexpected, London went into meltdown, schools and offices were closed across the city, trains and planes cancelled and delayed, but the A2 tribe marched on. It was going to take much more than adverse weather to stop us.
Billed to support A2 at the 1410 capacity was the triple threat of some of the UK’s most exciting new artists, from Tottenham singer Miraa May, to fellow rappers Octavian and Dotty.
I arrived as man of the moment Octavian had just stepped onto the stage. The rapper began reeling off a number of previously unreleased tracks, filling the stage space with extrovert dance moves as his limbs seemed to occupy all areas of the stage. With his latest track ‘100 Degrees’, he managed to get the audience suitably riled up, even though unlike last weeks show, this was just a support slot from Octavian, and Sam Wise didn’t make an appearance for his guest verse.
Climaxing with his breakout track ‘Party Here’, Octavian wrapped up his set with the leftfield dance-inspired mumber, which has already nabbed an infamous co-sign from Drake on Instagram, quoting the lyrics and captioning – Iov.,,,lo.l.o90o0rty;./b gh //.;
After a short interval, the curtain lifted to reveal a stage set up comprised of DJ Hacko’s booth on the right, plants, a clothing rail and a double bed. Immediately the intimacy of the setting became clearer as A2 invited us into a bedroom. As an artist, A2 has seemingly adopted the character of someone who appears to exist between the studio and his bedroom, and tonight within this setting, it feels like his elusive side is finally opening us up to a sense that – “this is my space, and I’m comfortable in it”.
Beginning his set with a selection of tracks from ‘Blue’ including the standout ‘Mirrors’, as the crowd began warming up, they sang along with A2 word by word. Bringing the temperature back down again with ‘Winter Winner’ A2 proclaimed “I see everybody – every single person in this venue is making history”. And as the track drew to a close, it was clearly a touching moment for him as he told the crowd “We’ve been doing shows up and down the country just for this moment”. The energy was electric with the crowd proving once again that A2 has a passionate and strong following.
After ‘Southern Comfort’, A2 honoured his long-time fans with a sequence of tracks back to back from his previous EPs including ‘Love Songs About Nobody’, ‘Flowers x Patron’ and ‘Holograms’. The expected reaction was apparent before he even started, as he demanded – “if I don’t see a stampede, I’m gonna go mad”. The nostalgic element of these tracks, provoked the most energetic reaction of the night from the audience, with a number of moshpits opening on KoKo’s dancefloor.
Inviting Octavian back on stage, A2 performed a new collaboration (which is pure fire) as he hinted that they might just be dropping some new content together soon, maybe even possibly on Octavian’s upcoming project. Following this, spoken word artist Thea Gajic was invited to perform her section on ‘From London With Love’. Adding a more sensitive spin to the evening, next up came ‘Gold’, at the perfect time for A2 to ask everyone to turn up the lights on their phones, creating a golden glow all across the venue. The evening drew to a close, as A2 reached the final segment ”for the mandem”, inviting his entire entourage to join him onstage, while he raged through ‘Double’ and the ‘Tell Me Freestyle’.
As the night ended and as we all headed back out into the icey streets of London on a massive high, it was clear no snow storm was going to put this sold-out show on pause, and next time, it’ll take more than a raging blizzard and an even bigger venue, to turn away A2’s growing following.