Doom’s doing an Axl – he’s pushing two hours late, there’s a whiff of mutiny in the air and that metal mask might have to save him from flying bottles. The Supervillain has previous in this territory – his legacy of cancelled shows and infamous use of impostors mean we already had a bad feeling about this. Still, a live show by the enigmatic MC has a Holy Grail ring to it, and Irish hip-hop fans have been counting the days since the news of his first ever show here broke in July. They’ll put up with the wait, just about.
There’s no messing about with support band Melodica Deathship though – the Dublin-based hip-hop act tear the soundsystem in the Button Factory a new one with their gravelly beats and walls of electronic noise. Imagine a less abrasive Dalek, with elements of drone, trad and sea shanties, while frontman Exile Eye’s melodica also channels some twisted Augustus Pablo into the swampy dub soundscapes. I can’t wait for their debut album Doom Your Cities, Doom Your Towns, which reminds us: Doom you’re late.
Doom’s aliases have taken many surreal forms over the last 20 years, from a megalomaniac Supervillain to three-headed space monster King Geedorah, so it’s almost comical to see him waft on at 11pm in a plain black baggy t-shirt. It’s all about the mask though, and it looks like it’s newly shined and ready to go. He’s got a lot of love to win back, and ‘Accordion’ gets him off the hook straight away, followed by a slew of tracks off Madvillainy, his five-star collaboration with producer Madlib. After perfect renditions of ‘Raid’, ‘Curls’, ‘Figaro’ and a raucous ‘America’s Most Blunted’, we’ve kissed and made up and it’s high-fives all round with the front row.
He’s got company too – some guy is pretending to play decks without vinyl while Doom plays MP3s through his laptop. The fake DJ’s looking pretty mortified with himself and we’ll leave it at that. There’s an enormous hype man too and at least his mic is turned on, but he doesn’t do much bar the odd high-five or shout-out – Doom needs no help with his lines. Metal Face is tearing through his cryptic convoluted rhymes without losing a breath, spit dripping off the mask as he does SWAT team gun manoeuvres with the mic. He mines his 2004 album Mm..Food for fan faves like ‘Hoe Cakes’, ‘Beef Rapp’ and a playful ‘One Beer’ that sees him exaggerate a tickle in his throat at the “whooping cough” line. His flow is jaw-dropping, considering that even reading his lyric sheets would spin most people’s eyeballs round.
The pantomime starts when he asks the crowd to shout out requests while he searches for beats on his laptop like your mate at a half-assed YouTube party. There’s also a problem with the computer’s output so the visuals are beamed from a 13-inch MacBook, even though the big screen had beamed old Dr Doom and King Geedorah clips while we were waiting. Then it all gets a bit Snoop Dogg when two girls storm the stage and one outstays her welcome. The rumours are that she’s in this year’s The Apprentice, which really would send the daftness meter into orbit. Anyway, she’s fired.
After 45 minutes or so Doom scarpers and leaves us hanging as soon as he wraps up his classic ‘Rhymes Like Dimes’ from Operation Doomsday. His ‘encore’ involves coming back to skull a pint of Guinness in one go – one last frustrating moment in a night that borders on surreal. It’s a gig that’s split opinion right down the middle – I reckon it was worth wading through the nonsense for the master MC’s short (but very sweet) set, but arguments in the pub and fired-up blog posts prove this isn’t the general consensus.
As part of an underground hip-hop gig, these shenanigans will never set Joe Duffy’s phone lines on fire in the manner of Guns N’ Roses’ recent O2 debacle, but you just can’t help wondering, in the immortal words of Johnny Rotten: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Well, yeah — but cheated by the master.