Review: Azealia Banks at The Academy was the feel-good gig of the season

Azealia Banks, Academy, Dublin

Azealia Banks’ reputation precedes her. At least it does in Ireland, in the wake of the Harlem rap artist’s double whammy of a spat with Aer Lingus and an internet tussle with the Rose of Tralee.

Having proved nobody does Instagram outrage better, Banks dazzlingly justified her take no prisoners stance with a turn that ticked all sorts of boxes and will have left nobody going home feeling cheated.

She also had conciliatory words for those offended by her rant about “ugly” Irish women.

“I want to dedicate this to all the beautiful Irish women,” she said at the start of Liquorice – a banger that spliced the ferocity of old school hip hop and the exuberance of house music.

That same mix of silky and pummelling was to the fore on 212 whilst she scraped the ceiling with astonishingly smokey vocals on Can’t Do It Like Me.

Banks is a ferocious free-styler and an equally accomplished singer.

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212 - Dublin, IE. - January 22nd, 2019

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She crooned, she twirled, she threw down bars as if challenging anyone in the room not to be floored by her talent.

But the crowd had really been on her side from the outset.

Cries of “f*** Aer Lingus, f*** Aer Lingus” rained down as a DJ amped the atmosphere until, shortly after 9.30pm, Banks and her drummer trooped on.

Of her notoriously disagreeable side there was not a glimmer.

She and her two day-glo dancers radiated positive vibrations and visibly took heart from the audience’s love.

Banks, wearing a skirt seemingly assembled from random squares of denim, could be sweet as well as salty.

She called a halt at one point to ensure fans on the packed floor were okay.

Later she flashed a superstar grin while chucking “freebie” t-shirts into the crowd.

It was, against all reasonable expectations, the feel-good gig of the season.

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