Tinie Tempah review – A brash show with odd moments of intimacy

Apollo, Manchester
Tempah says he wants to make 'deeper music' after battling with the notion of selling out, but there are few signs of hidden depths amid this ear-splitting performance

"Manchest-ah!" yells Tinie Tempah, as he appears atop a giant roofed construction, wearing a silver glitter suit. A bona fide pop star following two unit-shifting albums, he performs his lucrative grime/dance/hip-hop/pop formula backed by an ear-splittingly loud live band, with shrieking guitar solos played by metal men with beards.

First scheduled for last December, the "Demonstration" tour was postponed owing to "needing more rehearsals", and an ambitious gig at Manchester's vast arena became two at the smaller if not exactly intimate Apollo. Tempah seems to have undergone other dark nights of the soul.

"I come from a very small genre of music [grime] and not many of us make it," he tells Manchestah. "I was battling with the notion of selling out." To be fair, he doesn't seem to have battled very long, and is soon chatting about global markets and peppering Don't Sell Out with supposedly ironic beer and vodka brand names.

This brash, unsubtle, occasionally contradictory show doesn't flirt with the lowest common denominator so much as take it up the aisle. "Everybody can be a hero," Tempah gushes before Heroes; the 25-year-old rapper hauls a small child on stage and asks the crowd to "jump" so often they could be training for the Olympics. He can come across as arrogant and boorish – there's an awful moment when he surveys a line of nervously dancing girls and sings, "Your lips around my ... " However, he can be endearingly charming with a welcome sense of the ridiculous. He once commented that being at No 1 put him up there with Mr Blobby, and raps about carrying so much money that his trousers fall down.

However, it's not enough being grime's Norman Wisdom: he says he wants to make "deeper music" that will outlive him. Thus, he hails It's OK – a weirdly moving, starker song in which he sounds genuinely remorseful for being unfaithful, and not just because his girl took his house and car – as "the most honest song I've ever written". This moment of apparent intimacy would be more personal and powerful were he not to say exactly the same thing about the ghastly Tears Run Dry.

Still, Trampoline, Written in the Stars and Pass Out prompt mass arm-waving singalongs. "Are you still with me, Manchestah?" he cries and Manchestah roars approval, although might be entitled to wonder if even Tempah knows who he thinks he is.

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Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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