Action Bronson Still Mr Wonderful Despite Not Being Mr Majestic

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Besides it being potentially the strongest name in the game, it’s clear by Action Bronson’s schedule why the rapper went with the brawny forename ‘Action’ to precede the obvious homage to Charles Bronson.

Born Arian Asllani from an Albanian father and Jewish mother, Action Bronson seems to get busier with age. Bronson showed signs of ambition early in life, having gone to culinary school at the age of 18. The product of Queens, New York then proceeded to follow his ambitious pursuit of mastering the culinary arts by doing what most young men at that age do, nothing.

Shortly after having had his baby boy (Elijah) the new requirement for money put Bronson back in the kitchen. Considering a career in music to be but a pipedream, the new father resigned his thinking and was comfortable pursuing his second passion of a life inside a kitchen. Happy with being a short order cook or potentially a chef someday, the thoughts of playing music professionally started to wane, inching further and further from his then reality.

Working out of his old man’s kitchen and earning respect among New Yorkers as a fire-flame gourmet chef, Bronson was just a few episodes deep into the online show he had created Action In The Kitchen when a benign looking slip on the kitchen floor resulted in his breaking of his right leg.

With some down time from the kitchen and unanswered questions in the rap game coinciding, Bronson dedicated proper effort behind the mic.

Incredibly prolific musical output coupled with consistently strong reception by fans and critics alike, the consummate stoner is riding two full length LPs, two EPs, four mixtapes, a full length compilation album (Action Bronson / Statik Selektah), 22 singles (nine as the featured artist), 54 guest appearances and has a new mixtape on the horizon.

Throw in two producing credits with his two starring roles on Shane Smith’s Vice Network, and whoever said that weed makes you lethargic must have slept on some ‘Actionable’ data.

Always good about checking in on Vancouver throughout his career, Monday night marked the rapper’s return to Granville Street. Pulling in good numbers at The Commodore Ballroom during this current stint, Bronson’s show in May of last year managed to sell out The Vogue Theatre in the hours leading up to the show.

The life of wandering the earth in exchange for rhymes while dining at only the raddest of eateries for his show Fuck, That’s Delicious certainly sounds like a man doing it right. Combine that show’s gruelling tasks with those involved with travelling the Stars: Ancient Aliens with Action Bronson and Friends’ duties, and perhaps there is such thing as too successful. Long sit-ins with other musicians while getting high and watching the History Channel’s delightful show Ancient Aliens, burning as many trees as one could ever want, and consuming a king’s diet daily has predictably begun to be visibly hard on the big man..

Having to carry 300+ pounds around daily and having one of the more formidable weed habits on of anyone on god’s green (earth), to compliment his love affair with food puts Bronson at a disadvantage.  Factor in the night-to-night need to make that shit move around a little on stage, and shake it just right for the fans it has to be tough on the big man. As the set went on during the show Monday night it becomes very clear that the love Bronson needs to be investing into his meat vessel is simply not being tended to.

With a show significantly stripped of frills and theatrics compared to The Vogue Theatre show, Bronson kicked things off not with a cut off of his latest and highly successful LP Mr Wonderful, but with the first track off of 2013’s Blue Chips 2 mixtape “Silverado”.

The crowd’s reaction to the Elton John sample 13 seconds into “Silverado” was spirited to say the least. As if everyone in the crowd received an emerald alert at the same time, a giant plume of green smoke danced its way towards The Commodore Ballroom ceiling at beat of the thumping bass of the recurring “Island Girl” sample.

Following “Silverado” up with three straight tracks off of his widely adored Mr. Wonderful LP, The full of fire Action Bronson had the crowd singing along to “Terry”, half of an acapella version of ” Baby Blue” and the sing-along single of the night,“Actin’ Crazy”.

With an impressive turnout at The Commodore Ballroom for a Monday night, the crowd was even more admirable in their unconditional enthusiasm for the absurd rapper.

Bronson’s stamina steadily declined throughout the short set. Never lost however, was Bronson’s extroverted humour and retention for pop-culture subject matter. Often opting to tickle funny bones between songs, Bronson’s left field references were a delight. The funniest of his witty banters happening when during a plug of his Ancient Aliens with Action Bronson and Friends show the MC broke into Melissa Etheridge songs “Come To My Window” and a pitch-perfect “I’m The Only One”.

More impressive then pulling out Melissa Etheridge at his rap show was Bronson’s ability to mimic Etheridge vocally. A vocal feat made more intriguing when one considers that it came from the same voice that would later mic drop (due to having blown out his voice) during a heavily Tracy Chapman sampled “Amadu Diablo” encore. .

It was as clear Monday night that Bronson is going to have to start looking after himself if he wishes to maintain any kind of stage show. Sadly, it was predictable that one day we would be witnessing this kind of nightly decline out of Bronson, what with his combined interests, body type, and devil may care attitude regard his intake.

The same quality that makes him the man that charms us may also be Bronson’s detriment.

An interesting paradox occurred that night at The Commodore Ballroom. The very crowd that sang with and boisterously cheered the upbeat Bronson at every opportunity, was also responsible for more post show comments than I have heard in some time.

The back half of Bronson’s set saw two of his newer and more impressive songs of his catalogue, both released this year, the Jamaica written, recorded and inspired “Mr 2Face”, and the new theme song to his new show about watching a different show centred around aliens called “Descendant of the Stars”.

A little respect and homage went the way of Diddy & Ginuwine when Bronson shared with us 2002’s “I Need A Girl Pt2”.

Sandwiched between the memorable Diddy hit and Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend” was “Strictly 4 My Jeeps”, “9.24.30”, and  “Bad News”, the last of which had nobody hoping more than me that Danny Brown was waiting backstage to join Bronson, he was not.  

With the performer’s energy reserves on empty and the chopper sound effect dialled in with prominence, Action Bronson ended the formal part of his set with the cinematic  “Easy Rider” underscore at his side. It was hard not to imagine the wind in his ginger  beard as the last collective smoke plume in the air was let out into the night.

Despite riding the Harley into the sunset and rockin’ very loose pants (rockin’ very loose pants), the kid showed spirit by at least attempting an encore.  

Half-assing an encore to “Amadu Diablo”, Bronson’s shot voice was largely drowned out by the prominent Tracy Chapman sample. Sounding more like a cover version of Chapman’s“Give Me One Reason”, then an Action Bronson original the big man decided to fold. A great selection for an encore was “Amadu Diablo” had its proper execution resulted in a prideful mic drop to end the night. Instead, as the clock clicked over to Tuesday the last image of Action Bronson we were left with was a mic drop that more resembled a tap-out due to darce choke.

Action Bronson Setlist

Silverado

Terry,

Acapella Baby Blue

Actin’ Crazy

Come To My Window (Melissa Etheridge interlude) **

I’m The Only One (Melissa Etheridge interlude)**

Mr 2Face

Descendant of the Stars

I Need A Girl (P.Diddy & Ginuwine, Loon)

Bad News

Strictly 4 My Jeeps

9.24.30

Just a Friend (Biz Markie)

Eazy Rider

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Amadu Diablo

**Denotes only a couple seconds in duration

( )Indicates original artist