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Review: Little Simz | Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Written By Sam Murphy on 01/18/2017

Image: Facebook

London MC Little Simz traded a British winter for an Australian summer but she probably wasn’t expecting to walk on stage in Sydney for her first show just after 10pm in 30+ degree heat. Last night was a scorcher, and that was before Simz took to the stage as the temperatures only rose more once she stepped in front of the eager Sydney crowd.

Dressed in a long-sleeved shirt, Simz initially looked a little taken back by the weather but she eventually embraced the sweaty madness and gave the crowd 100 per cent as she worked through tracks from her excellent records A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons and Stillness In Wonderland.

Simz’s stage setup is a very low-key affair, backed by a DJ and occasionally using a mic stand. There are few that can pull off such a minimal approach to the live show but Simz makes audiences hang off every word that drops out of her mouth, making the show all about what comes from her instead of what’s around her. This is the second Australian tour for the rapper and she was confident that the Aussie crowd would turn up for her.

“Sydney, make some noise,” she yelled numerous times as the DJ spun the biggest bangers of the set back to the start and each time the crowd went louder. She brought each track unfiltered to the crowd, staring right in the faces of those in the front row. The connection was so strong that some punters felt as if they formed such a bond that they could jump up on stage and whisper things in her ear. They were probably misinformed but Simz took the enthusiasm well and was clearly taken back by the overwhelming love.

You have to put in work to make people turn up when even the simplest move causes you to drip sweat but Simz put in the effort and reaped the rewards. She went in hard on Bad To The Bone, making the hook sound far more raucous than it does on record and Dead Body rattled the industrial walls of the Oxford Art Factory. When the crowd wasn’t bouncing ferociously they were watching in awe as she delivered near-perfect bars of autobiographical brilliance. Wings was poetic and Doorways + Trust Issues rolled out like a thrilling freestyle.

Stillness In Wonderland is her most moveable long player yet and the set benefitted greatly from it as Sydney were one of the first audiences to hear it live since its release. The Syd-featuring Shotgun is an instant groovy classic and Picture Perfect, dropped at the tail end of the set, sizzled with its dizzying brass-tinges.

Simz asked the crowd the be quiet as we came to the end of the set to genuinely thank the Sydney crowd and they deserved it. They matched Simz’s relentless energy and created an atmosphere of positivity. Of course, that’s not possible if the host up front isn’t steering the mood properly and thankfully, Simz is an excellent puppet master. Her set had the perfect amount of light and shade, proving her mad skills as an MC and also creating a party atmosphere.

Everyone was dripping with sweat as they left OAF including Simz but there were smiles from one end of the room to the other. Simz is a phenominal rapper, perhaps one of the best in the world right now, but she’s also a fierce performer and that made the night not just good but great.