Kanye West, Brixton Academy, London

Brixton Academy, London

Connoisseurs of rap-producers-turned-artists were spoilt for choice in London this week, with gigs by the Neptunes (disguised as N*E*R*D) and Kanye West on the same night. For the fashion-conscious, though, West's show was the only place to be. The Chicago MC's name is the one to drop right now, as much for his dress sense as for the innovative musicality of his debut album, The College Dropout.

West's argyle jumper and tweedy trousers certainly justified his claim that he's "my own man". It takes courage to dress as Mr Chips when all about you are sporting roomy hip-hop crotches. The outfit was garnished with a single gold chain, signalling an affinity with the crowd, who returned the compliment by furiously snapping pictures with their camera-phones.

Style statements aside, West deftly surmounted the problem of performing live hip-hop by making it short, sharp and focused. For most of the show he was accompanied only by a DJ (as opposed to his last UK visit, when a pianist and a violinist joined in), but such was his presence that he held the audience till the last drop. With songs like these, which milk every ounce of drama from his life, it's no wonder he kept them rapt.

West sequenced his brief hour cannily, interspersing raucous versions of songs he produced for Twista and Dilated Peoples amid more introspective tracks from the Mobo-winning College Dropout. Among the latter were Through the Wire, a Chaka Khan-sampling account of nearly dying in a car crash, and the chilling Jesus Walks: West rapped about the struggle between sin and salvation as an eerie gospel-voodoo melody raised goosebumps. All Falls Down, spiced by a haunting female voice, had the same effect as West confessed that he's as susceptible to blinginess as the next 26-year-old millionaire ("I ain't gonna act holier than thou/ Cos I went to Jacob the jeweller with 25 thou").

The biggest compliment you could pay West is that, when he was joined on stage by his blustery mate GLC towards the end, you felt like telling the latter to clear off because he was spoiling the show.

· At the Academy, Glasgow, tonight. Box office: 0870 771 2000. Then touring.


Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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