The last time UK rapper Dave was in NYC was when he played Bowery Ballroom in 2019 in support of his debut album Psychodrama, and he's clearly gotten a lot bigger since then. His current North American tour supporting 2021's great We're All Alone In This Together has him in the midst of a three-night run in NYC -- including shows at Brooklyn Steel on Tuesday (5/3), Irving Plaza last night (5/4), and Irving again tonight (5/5) -- all of which sold out months ago. When I got to Irving Plaza last night as doors were opening around 8 PM, the line to get in was already wrapped around the block and all the way down to the end of 15th St. And as soon as he took the stage about an hour later, it became instantly clear how strong the love for him is.

The crowd was already hyped up thanks to Hot 97's DJ Kast One warming things up with a hits-filled DJ set, but when Dave walked out on that stage, the already-packed crowd packed in even tighter, with people storming towards the stage, a sea of phones in the air, and almost the entire crowd rapping along to every word to show-opener "Verdansk" right off the bat. (At one point, Dave stopped the show to ask everyone to move back and check on people in the front row.) For a good chunk of the show, there was nothing on stage except Dave and a hazy light show, and that's all he needed to keep the energy level at a 10/10 song after song. He's not only a great storyteller but a great performer, and he won over the entire room off the strengths of his raps alone. He changed things up as the show went on; as he's known to do, he asked the crowd who knew AJ Tracey's verse on "Thiago Silva" -- their 2016 collaboration named after the soccer player whose name the crowd had been chanting since before Dave took the stage -- and he passed the mic to a couple audience members who were ready to prove they knew it by heart, before selecting one woman to come up on stage and do the song with him. (She killed it!) During the song, at least two audience members sat on their friends' shoulders to show off their Thiago Silva jerseys.

Later on, Dave talked about piano being part of his musical upbringing, and then he sat behind a keyboard to show off his chops, before going into "Twenty to One" accompanied by himself on keys. He also had a guitarist on stage for part of the show, and when he did "Both Sides of a Smile" -- which he talked about co-writing with James Blake -- Dave himself played guitar on that one too. He also broke out an acoustic guitar to do a partial instrumental cover of Dido's "Thank You." He ended the show without an encore, after playing for just over an hour without a single lull in the set, and I think it's safe to say he left everyone wanting more. Hopefully it won't be another three years before he's back!

Check out a few fan-shot videos and the setlist below...

Setlist (via)
Professor X
No Words
Screwface Capital
Wanna Know
Thiago Silva
Twenty to One
Both Sides of a Smile
Thank You (Dido cover, instrumental, partial)
Funky Friday

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