- 04 Mar 22
23-year-old UK rapper Dave brought his pulsing We're Alone in This Together tour to Dublin's 3Arena.
It's no wonder the south London rapper has scraped the top of festival billings across the UK. Dave's ability to draw a crowd was well on display last night at 3Arena as fans wrapped around the docklands in numbers that far outweigh his relatively few years as an artist.
Since 2015, Dave has carved out his spot in UK hip-hop, clinching chart toppers and a Mercury Prize along the way. Despite having only two full-length albums under his belt – 2019 Psychodrama and 2021's We're Alone in This Together – it's clear Santan's particular meld of trap and grime, with the adage of socially conscious lyricism, has struck a cord.
Before he even took the stage in Dublin, energy from the audience was bursting across the arena. While supporters DJ Manny Norte and fellow Brit rapper Meekz certainly gave notable performances in their own right, this crowd didn't need much warming up.
Dave took his time getting to the stage. His introduction was a slow burn, with the opening piano trills to 'Verdansk' teasing his appearance.
As he stepped on stage and the fan favourite track ramped all the way up, it seemed it could've been performed by the audience alone as they screamed every word back to the artist with a ferver I've seldom seen before.
He maintained that energy with similarly wired tracks 'Professor X' and 'Titanium', before commenting on the crowd reaction saying: "We're only a few tracks in and I feel like this could be the best show we've ever done Dublin."
A notable aspect of his performance was a marked sincerity. While it couldn't be missed that the crowd was enjoying their time, Dave made it clear it was mutual. No stranger to Dublin, Dave felt he was home.
"No better supporters of anything than Ireland. I feel like you guys are family," he said.
Most of the set list came from his latest offering We're Alone in This Together – a sentiment that ran strong throughout the night. There was a connectivity between the crowd and Dave, one that remained pulsing from beginning to end.
Going back to the set list itself, it was perfectly stacked with hits and deep cuts, uppers and slow jams. He kept the party going with 'Psycho' and 'Screwface Capital' and brought out darker notes on 'Wanna Know' and 'Samantha'.
A highlight of the performance for me was when the rapper brought us into his childhood bedroom via a grand piano and a few tracks he grew up on. It was intimate yet a flex of his musical versatility all at once. Elsewhere in the set list, a chorus came on stage to back Dave for a few numbers. It was a boisterous celebration – it was a sermon. For a little while, the 3Arena stage was a pulpit and the audience a devoted clergy.
What stood out about Dave to me was his effortless ability to jump around from tender moments of piano arrangements and confessionals to pounding anthems hanging in the balance of Travis Scott-esque trap and Stormzy grime. It was a layered show showcasing his wide and varied appeal.
Another through-theme of the night was "leaning into your good fears." For Dave, there are two types of fears – bad fears and good ones that, if pushed through, lead to a richer existence.
My favourite part of the evening was the addition of one of Dave's "good fears," wherein he picked his way through an impressive finger-style guitar solo. It, once again, widened the breadth of Dave's musicality, adding a rockier vibe to the mix. Nearing the end of the show, it was anthemic and primed the audience for the finale.
Dave ended the night with more fan favourites, particularly 'Location'. During that Burna Boy-featured track, everyone in the crowd was on their feet, giving their last bit of energy back to the Streatham native.
If you weren't at 3Arena last night, you missed out. Whether you're a UK hip-hop fanatic or you have no point of entry at all, Dave is someone to watch. At his core, he is an impressive musician, hit maker and a well-deserved leading name within his genre.
From what I saw last night in Dublin, Dave has more than earned his spot among those stratospheric names.