HARLEM'S queen of hip-house is in town and the kids are out in force. And we mean the kids – at times your correspondent feels like a chaperone, but there are plenty of older faces near the back, eager to see if Azealia Banks's live show lives up to the volcanic buzz she generated with her 2011 monster hit 212.
That single and its video were the perfect introduction to the Banks sound – rapid-fire, tongue-twisting, 'Did she really say that?' rhymes over the top of dance tunes from cutting edge producers like Machinedrum and Lazy Jay. Recorded output since has been low-key – an EP, a self-released 'mixtape' and a single – and talk has focused more on her outspoken persona and Twitter rows with rivals like Angel Haze than the music.
But for the current tour, and her first visit to Belfast, fears of a glorified PA are quickly allayed. Backed by no less than two DJs, two voguing male go-go dancers and colourful visuals and clad in an outrageous cut-out outfit that brings new meaning to the word 'revealing' (the gig amounts to one long wardrobe malfunction), she tears through a tight but largely satisfying 45-minute set of favourites and new material.
Banks's insanely dextrous, complex rhyming style is on point throughout, and the trap and booty house beats and basslines shudder through the entire room.
She knows how to work the crowd, playing to the front row as well as the back, and the set climaxes rapturously received versions of 212 and latest single Yung Rapunxel. Azealia Banks could well be the real deal – but let's hear the album.