Live Review: Action Bronson Cooks Up A Treat In Melbourne

There’s a real buzz in the air at Melbourne’s Forum as the growing crowd wait in anticipation for chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson. The Queens identity has finally made it back down under after postponing last year, with tonight’s show the last leg of his tour. As punters mill around patiently for the star, local DJ Slick P spins a smorgasbord of modern hip-hop tunes, notably dominated by Kendrick Lamar tracks, as the generally male hip-hop fans gather about the stage.

Bronson’s good friend and fellow rapper Mayhem Lauren opens proceedings with an energetic set of 90s influenced raps. Lauren gets the crowd amped when he raps his verses from Bronson’s Bag Of Money and Jackson & Travolta before debuting two new tracks and shouting out his upcoming album. While he didn’t blow me away, Lauren is affable enough, and I’m certainly interested in checking out his album.

Surprisingly, the time between Lauren’s set and Action Bronson’s appearance is relatively short. As the crowd chant his hame and the occasional empty flies through the air, the lights dim and Bronson’s DJ appears, signalling the main event. As a reggae track announces Bronson’s arrival, the crowd erupts as he saunters on stage, his majestic beard overflowing down the striped tee he sports. The strains of Brand New start before Bronson cuts things short, yelling, “Fuck that. Let’s start this again.” The added theatre is well received, with the crowd laughing and cheering as Bronson restarts things amid a haze of weed smoke.

Silverado and Terry have punters bouncing along before hit single Actin’ Crazy has much everyone rapping with their best Bam Bam impersonation, but it’s noticeable Bronson is struggling. He tells us he’s come all this way to perform and now his voice is going and apologises sincerely. While it’s only when he attempts to sing that his voice fails, it’s taking its toll, as the frenzied energy you associate with Bronson is a little diluted. There’s no naked torso, weed smoking or jumping in the crowd, with the rapper making regular exits between songs. Lauren makes another appearance, dropping another couple of tracks while Bronson stands to the side, helping out when needed. While a slight distraction, it doesn’t seem to bother the near capacity crowd who can’t get enough. Strictly 4 My Jeeps has punters jumping while the 80s pop sampling Contemporary Man ends with Bronson dropping the mic and striking a God pose.

Baby Blue gets the biggest response and features an extended outro of Biz Markie‘s Just A Friend, before Bronson urges the crowd to spark their weed (something they’ve been doing all night without hesitation), ending with the ’60s psychedelica of Easy Rider.

The stage goes dark and the inevitable encore is coming, with punters stomping their feet and once again chanting “Bronson, Bronson” until the bearded wonder returns. It’s an unusual encore, with the Tracy Chapman sampling Amadu Diablo followed by a new Jamaican flavoured tune. Apologising again for his vocal problems, Bronson disappears for the final time, much to the crowd’s disappointment.

The short set time (just over an hour) coupled with Action Bronson’s vocal problems are unfortunate, but Bam Bam gives it his all, his endearing fans appreciating his efforts as they clamouring for the last pieces of merch before riding the Harley into the sunset.

Image: Dani Hansen/Howl & Echoes