LIVE REVIEW: Machine Gun Kelly @ O2 Academy (26.09.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Like a true punk, Machine Gun Kelly hits the O2 stage full of piss and vinegar. Despite his perpetually brooding visage, he’s in a triumphant mood, which, given the banner year he’s having, makes perfect sense. Shit, if the last twelve months had seen me not only flex my thespian muscle with well-received performances in both film and TV, but also receive a gold plaque for my latest album, I’d be feeling myself too.

Flanked by a dynamic four-piece band (plus DJ), and brimming with cocky self-assurance, the 27-year old Ohio native kicks things off with an adrenaline-inducing rendition of The Gunner, which whips his already rowdy audience into a somewhat manic frenzy. “Yeah, tonight’s gonna be a fucking good one! I can feel it,” he predicts knowingly, before spitting the chest-thumping bars to Golden God in the rapid fire cadence of an itinerant preacher at a Pentecostal tent revival.

In addition to his seeming overabundance of nut-grabbing bravado, MGK also possesses an equal capacity for heartfelt sincerity. Although there’s subtle hints of this vulnerability in the earnest lyrics of Let You Go – a pop-punk-influenced breakup anthem on which MGK also plays lead guitar – it’s not until he’s halfway through a well-received cover of Linkin Park’s Numb (we miss you, Chester!) that this winsome duality becomes clear as day.

While MGK’s punk-straddling take on hip-hop does admittedly get a tad monotonous, his deft fusion of bellicose swagger and effortlessly charismatic showmanship keeps things from veering into parody rap-rock territory, à la Kid Rock. If you ask me, the bulk of MGK’s not-inconsiderable charm resides in his authenticity – he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than the unrepentantly hedonistic bad boy that he is. And, like the lyrics to Can’t Walk suggest, he’s definitely not planning on becoming a role model anytime soon.

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