By Anna Nathanson

Friday night saw Forrest Gate’s finest Plan B perform the first of his sell out London dates at Brixton Academy. With a number one album to his name and one of the most popular songs of the year, 2010 has seen the angst-ridden MC transform into a household name. Long gone are the days when he sat casually dressed in jeans and a T-Shirt, spitting watertight lyrics while strumming a guitar on stage.

The newly reinvented Plan B emerged in a suit and tie, and against the dark, atmospheric background and supported by his amazing band, proceeded to perform tracks from his Motownesque album The Defamation of Strickland Banks. The extent to which he connects with the audience was clear; from the very first track everyone sang along, demonstrating how much this album has cut through.

The performances of the singles were particular highlights, especially the catchy She Said, and he performed just one track from his previous album, the controversial Charmaine. Showing that he has retained his Hip Hop roots, Plan B started the show by beatboxing, and ended it by singing classic songs such as Ain’t No Sunshine and Kiss From A Rose over Dubstep beats.

In an interview with him some three or four years ago, he told me that what many people don’t realise about him is his ability to write pop music. I remember going to a few of his shows back then, and while his sound has completely changed, his ability to put on a captivating show has not.

Plan B has successfully managed to gain enormous mainstream appeal whilst remaining a core act within urban music, and the clever and unexpected way that he has switched his style just goes to further show his versatility as an artist.

Words by Anna Nathanson / Photo by Jordan Saflor