Full Title: George the Poet, Village Underground, review: Spoken word artist brims with infectious energy
Approximately 10 hours after Ed Miliband unveiled Labour’s manifesto on Monday, George the Poet took to the stage of Village Underground to announce his. It was to be found, he said, in the pages of his book, on sale at the entrance.
An artist selling a book at a gig is a rarity. But then so too is George the Poet. Growing up on a north London council estate, he won a place at Cambridge University. An inner-city upbringing, by way of an Oxbridge education – you don’t find much of that in the Top 40.
The stage is set with bollards and the fluro-orange barriers normally found around roadworks. The band wears helmets and hi-vis jackets. George kicks things off with ‘Wotless’, which tells his backstory, laying out his exceptional trajectory against the norm on his estate, where ‘some fell behind, some fell to crime’.
He got into music, he tells the crowd, MCing grime. But it’s with spoken word that he’s made his name. The genre can come with the whiff of stale beer: open mic night at the Student Union. But acts like George and Kate Tempest are reinvigorating the form, using it to dissect the injustice and paradox of modern British life, and winning fans across the board. George has more YouTube hits than the poet laureate and was nominated for this year’s Critics’ Choice Award at the BRITs.