Plan B: Westonbirt Arboretum - 9/10
From Forest Gate to Forestry Commission the meteoric rise of Ben Drew aka Plan B appears to know no bounds and judging by Saturday night’s sold out show his star remains firmly in the ascendancy.
Drew introduced ‘Plan B’ from the wings and invited the audience to have a good time. On stage just gone nine the majesty of the setting all but lost to the bleak conditions, he opened with the stirring Writing’s On The Wall and the massed throng responded accordingly.
Drew and his band were dapper in their trademark three-piece suits and neatly at odds with the bedraggled punters, but the unrelenting rain proved to be an inconvenience rather than a hindrance as the welly-clad crowd had definitely come for a party.
The evening was effectively divided into two sets. The first majored on Drew’s massively successful crossover soul album, The Defamation of Strickland Banks. An amazing interlude featuring beatboxer and long time collaborator, Faith SFX followed and then the full ensemble returned, this time in their civvies, to entertain the crowd with a diverse mixture of numbers incorporating tracks from Drew’s soundtrack album to his hard-hitting debut feature film, Ill Manners.
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Make no mistake, the bulk of those present were primarily there to hear the Strickland numbers and as Love Goes Down, She Said, Welcome To Hell and Free were replicated superbly all expectations were fulfilled. However, it was the phenomenal The Recluse and the rousing Prayin with its epic guitar work that really stood out.
Ill Manors’ graphic account of post-riots London might not resonate with the Westonbirt set quite the way it does with those in East London, but Drew’s impassioned delivery transcended any perceived geographical divide and appeared to strike a chord. Recent single, Lost My Way, and the Labrinth produced, Playing With Fire, also stood out and look certain to become future favourites.
The less familiar Manners tracks were augmented by a crowd-pleasing rendition of Paolo Nutini’s, Coming Up Easy, a snatch of Tinie Tempah’s, Pass Out, Seal’s, Kiss From A Rose, a snippet of Ben E King’s, Stand by Me and even a blast of Blur’s, Song 2.
Since starting out in 2005 Drew has prodigiously written, produced and released various musical genres and collaborations all with varying degrees of critical acclaim and Saturday proved what a rare and gifted talent he is.
Plan B encored with Stay Too Long which turned into a mass euphoric sing-along reinforcing the evening’s definite festival vibe. However, unlike those poor souls on the Isle Of Wight, although drenched, we had our warm beds to go home to.
A great night!