Of all the gosh darned, rootin' tootin' son of a guns that have come along in the British music scene over the years, few have really made a massive impression on me over a long period of time.
For every game changer like Dizzie Rascal there have been numerous false hopes like Klashnekoff and Kano. For every icon like Amy Whinehouse there have been waves of indescribable horrors like Rita Ora and Paloma Faith.
That's the Paloma Faith who did the official
Conservative Party Rugby World Cup anthem, and the Rita Ora who recently thought it would be a good idea to do a cover of that shitty cover of Lady Marmalade, an idea so bad that when asked to partake even Iggy Azalea; grand-daughter of Cruella De Vil, thought to herself "Nah, y'know what Reets, I'd rather cling on to this last flap of dignity as it desperately wriggles away from my greased fingers than associate myself with that absolute shitstorm of a project, even though your offer of 101 Dalmatian skins as payment is very tempting."
But fellas please, enough chit chat. I’m here to discuss Jamie xx, one of the few British artists who has been consistently excellent since the first time I heard his music to today. I remember when he released his first remix, a garage version of Florence & The Machines ‘You Got The Love’, and how many times I banged it out at 8am to the indignation of all my housemates who’d heard me play it a million times over.
From then, through to ‘We’re New Here’ and his recent In Colour album, nearly every song felt like an anthem, or a lament, that resonated with me in a way few artists have ever done.
So basically I well like Jamie xx is what I’m trying to say, and was well chuffed to come to the beautiful Albert Hall in Manchester to see his live show last Friday.
And what a beautiful venue it is. With the stage elevated just above ground level and a balcony arching around on the second floor, wherever you were you had a great view. Being a formal chapel, it was punctuated with gothic touches of architecture and striking stain glass windows everywhere you looked. Truly one of the most unique venues I’ve been in, and perfect for all the wicked cool lasers and rainbow beams to fly around in.
And the light show was striking, relentless and harmonized with the mood of every song Jamie xx played. Corresponding with the multi-coloured vibrancy of the In Colour album cover, he played a set that breathed in with some of his own haunting tracks like ‘The Rest Is Noise’:
Then exhaled, with garage bangers like ‘Moving Too Fast’:
And the original sample from his single ‘Loud Places’ – ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This’:
As waves of blue, yellow and pink flashed and swelled into the hall. On top of that I was loving his ability to seamlessly mix between chunky house wobblers like Butch – 'Dope’ and African funk like Hugh Maselaeka – 'Don’t Go Lose It Baby’, without losing the crowd or the energy of the set.
By the time it had come round to his set closers like ‘Gosh’ the crowd was eating out of his hand. When he rolled out an encore of ‘Good Times’, followed up straight after with the brilliant Skepta remix:
It felt like two hours had passed in two minutes and I was crestfallen for the music to stop. If it all sounds like I’m getting quite emotional about the whole thing, well I fucking was because it was one of the best fucking sets I’ve ever seen, so fight me.
But if there was any consolation it was that I was a hop, skip and a frolic away from Sounds Of The Near Future at Store Street a.k.a The Warehouse Project.
Arriving at the venue already more heaving than Gerard Depardieu in a corset, I dived straight into the sounds of Bonobo’s ‘Cirrus’. Among the throng of people packed into the main hall Bonobo was ready to play a bunch of his old favourites as well as some real filth along-side it.
But due to the sweat related activities going on in and around my t-shirt area I decided to go to the less sardined Room 2, where local favourite Zomby was going OFF. There seems to be somewhat of a cult following with Zomby in Manchester, and from the swathes of girls shouting “AIRHORN” at him from the front row it looks like it’s only getting more and more intense. Adorned in a twisted metal mask, he destroyed the dance floor with bass heavy banger after banger, only pausing intermittently to lift his mask and have a swig of beer. When he played Drake’s ‘Jumpman’ it was somehow both really funny and fucking amazing to see everyone bounce around like pogo-humans.
Taking swiftly over was Hugo Massien, a name I hadn’t heard before but I quickly googled straight after. Doing a set full of up-front House basslines, it still managed to keep the crowd going after such a tough act as Zomby to follow. In the end he got a full round of whoops and clapping from everyone in the room from front to back.
Then entered Powell, with his live set. And, fuck. I didn’t really expect anything from it and was quite knackered after Zomby and Hugo Massien but it kind of blew my socks off. He had this method of building industrial behemoths out of small glitchy beats that always caught me unawares in the best way possible. Every time an innocuous bass kick would start, then he would layer and layer it until it was a raging full on sound assault. It was proper mint, I tell thee.
After all that I was fully spent, but still had a bit of time to catch a bit of George Fitzgerald’s set back in the main hall, who was intent on playing the heaviest and bass driven house he could, with the crowd roaring at every drop.
It was a full on night of noise for your humble protagonist; almost 10 hours of the choicest cuts from the Albert Hall to the end of the Warehouse Project, but one that was exhilarating and a bit extraordinary if I’m honest. These guys are consistently putting on some of most special line ups in the UK, and as a punter it’s a good a time as any to go enjoy them.