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Live Review – Jaden Smith @ O2 Forum London 08/19

This show in London is Jaden’s first ever UK headline show following an Australian Tour and Coachella Festival appearances and the set focuses heavily on the SYRE and ERYS albums

The excitement in the area around Kentish Town before the show is electric with the predominantly younger fanbase descending on the venue just as the heavens open

An opening set by collaborator Harry Hudson is not the obvious choice with a folk rock, hip-pop hybrid mashup to open, but if we’re honest most of the crowd are here for one guy only

Jaden, son of Fresh Prince Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, despite the family connection is his own man. Aged 21 he’s acted in Karate Kid, got his own clothing line MSFTSrep, is a partner in spring water company Just Water and a mobile restaurant providing free vegan dinners for the homeless. It’s this eclectic mix and world view that draw many towards Jaden. In fact many of the audience are too young to remember The Fresh Prince Of Bell Air, but might just about recall Men In Black

“I struggled with being a mosh pit and singing about feelings” referencing the complex nature of the 2 very different albums

With 29 songs across nearly 2 hours some may say it’s the sort of set that has no filter, but it doesn’t feel like it. Some songs come in at under 2 minutes and others at nearly 7. But it says a lot that the setlist doesn’t even include undeniably one of his best tracks “Watch Me” and still leave the audience satisfied

Opening with the 4 song ensemble “PINK” from ERYS – P a ballad between sister Willow and Jaden is the intro music of which Willow isn’t present and it’s set us on a journey of ups and down. Of pits and of reflections. Of haircuts on stage, of moonwalks, of swagger. Even a basic guitar gets brought out for one song. So much swagger and effortless cool

Later this is followed up by “BLUE” – the 4 songs ensemble from SYRE. Nothing is done by accident. It’s thought through and developed and as the albums are art, the shows are art. At times minimalist pink backdrops, at other times

it’s the videos portraying the lyrics. For most of the show the focus is on Jaden with lyrics spat over a backing tape. Very little is said throughout the whole show apart from “right next track” as the art is communication in itself. There are no cliches of seeing which side of the audience is the loudest. It isn’t that type of show

“Batman” “Noise” (the collab with Tyler The Creator), “Just Slide” (with Harry Hudson), “Summertime In Paris” and “Soho” are highlights

But the 2 real highlights are “Goku” – a track built around the central image of Goku from the Japanese anime series Dragon Ball Z – arrives midset and the roof goes off. I mean who raps about Anime and gets thousands going crazy in the pit.

And the closer “Icon”

“I am just an icon living”

It’s the defining lyric of tonight’s set, the last song tonight and a total banger of a tune

With Jaden every video is a piece of art & albums are concept albums ‬

‪You don’t get many artists nowadays who think of albums as true art. Most albums nowadays are collections of singles with filler tracks ‬

For those in the know, you had to be there

With a multi-facted career you never know when the next opportunity will be. After all someone who retweets Yoko Ono and conspiracy theories on a regular basis could just wake up one more and decide to give up music in search of a higher calling

“I am just an Icon Living, we are all icon’s living”

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