It’s been nearly two years since Stephen Manderson, AKA Professor Green, played this venue’s inaugural gig, and in that time he hasn’t changed much – although he has stopped wearing shades indoors, a wise move.
“Last night we was in Glasgow, and they was f***ing real,” alleges Geen, apparently still nursing a whiskey hangover. “Leicester – are you ready to be more real than Glasgow?”
Probably a question the city’s never been asked before, but fortunately a capacity crowd is on hand to emphatically confirm that they’re every bit as existent as their Scottish predecessors.
If anything, Green has further refined his successful formula of sing-along choruses interspersed with cheeky, conversational rap verses, each of which is lapped-up, from City Of Gold ‘s opening call-to-constantly-waving-arms to to the teeth-trembling groove of Monster.
Vitally though, his delivery and energy also remain intact. He’s not the most innovative rapper in the world, but then he’s never set out to be. Sure, he’s precise, fluid, and funky, but he’s more concerned with telling a story and engaging the room than showing off with aloof lyrical acrobatics.
His band too have retained their urge to entertain, and though Green is always the star, the side-stage strutting of his backing vocalists, constantly grinning guitarists and the irrepressible DJ IQ help him to shine.
Racing through early hits Just Be Good To Green and I Need You Tonight, they all seem eager to showcase fresher material, like the meditative Never Be A Right Time and Forever Falling, a mid-set highlight powered by emo and an irresistible drum patter.
“I was actually the first person to play this venue,” notes Professor Green after closing with the rousing confessional Read All About It, and you can tell there’s a genuine touch of pride in his voice at having done so, suggesting this won’t be the last time he does either.