As if writing about music wasn’t hard enough, we feel the need to somehow label and classify it. like biologists do the flora and fauna. In less complicated days there was classical (orchestral), jazz, rock, pop and folk/country, but as music grew into an industry (as in business) those genres developed their own sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, then fusions and hybrids of those genres. With that in mind, trying to come up with a generic label for last night’s gig at the (O2) Brixton Academy was a bit tricky. Urban (whatever that means in musical terms) or MOBO would probably cover it in broad terms, but whatever it was, it was some of the best of what London and Britain has to offer, and Brixton, the home of Soul II Soul, was a fitting venue for it, even if most of the acts were from North London.
Although London-born Anglo-Irish singer Maverick Sabre was the main draw, the support line-up were all worthy headliners, from the blue-eyed soul of Daley, to Mercury, MOBO and Brit-winning rapper Ms. Dynamite, to the ensemble dance sounds of Rudimental, there was something for everyone.
The queue was trailing around the block, but being one of the privileged few on the guest list, there was a separate entrance through the stage door, but in spite of its shortness it was moving at a snail’s pace, as the main line flowed past. As a result we only caught the end of the opening set from Daley, which finished with his single Remember Me (featuring Jessie J – although only as a sample).
Next on stage was, surprisingly, Ms Dynamite. This multi-award winning rapper and singer may have mellowed a little from when her first album burst onto the scene, but she can still belt out a tune that has something to say, and the audience were with her the whole way.
Rudimental are a great example of the diversity of the UK music scene, featuring four different singers with their own styles, both vocally and sartorially. Blending dance and hip-hop, their live performance is much rawer than their studio recordings, and all the better for it. Freed from over production and Autotune, the heart and soul and real energy of the music gets to shine through and connect with the crowd.
As the crew prepared the stage for the headliner, the room was already well and truly warmed up and were even joining in with classic songs such as The Clash’s Guns of Brixton and Bob Marley’s Jammin’. Meanwhile, on the side of the stage, out of sight, one of the crew was preparing cups of hot water with honey for the star of the evening. Clearly the idea of voices developed with cigarettes and whisky (a la Joe Cocker) are a thing of the past.
When Maverick hit the stage the audience were blasted with a wall of sound and a bass line that vibrated to your core. Even with earplugs in I had to cover my ears. Along with his contemporaries, Plan B and the late Amy Winehouse, it is hard to reconcile the sound with the image, and how these young white kids can produce such soulful songs. Back in 1970, Blue Mink sang about the Melting Pot, and some forty years on that musical ideal has truly become a reality, and was on display at the Brixton Academy.