“They say all the legendary gigs were only attended by a handful of people… this could go down in history with that famous Sex Pistols gig… Has anyone seen Mick Hucknall?”
Sunday night in a sodden and rainy London. Scroobius Pip could be forgiven for thinking the “Fly Bar” is cursed. First headliner “Dan Sartain” cancels promoting him to top of a bill of one, and then with replacements duly found one of them turns up without their drum kit. Call are made, favours called in, and a taxi hastily despatched.
I Shouted Gun gamely kick things off but I’m finding it hard to concentrate… the drummer from Morland appears to have left not only his drum kit but his manners on the plane, and spends most of the set assembling and examining the replacement drum kit right in front of the stage (and when I say stage if you know the Fly Bar its more “the corner of the room”). So apologies to I Shouted Gun as my memory of him is obscured by a drum kit and the skinny backside of a Swede… the unusual ladies pink loveheart and cartoon covered pants he was wearing also had a strange transfixing effect :s
Unfortunately the pants were about as interesting as Morland got, very proficient pop rock, but maybe the tunes or the soul got lost in translation. They also took an age to both setup and get off meaning Scroobius Pip didn’t actually play until almost 1030.
You wont find many acts that start their show with a slideshow explanation of where Lithium is on the periodic table, but sporting a beard that would make Jack Straw quiver Mr Pip is far from run of the mill hip hop. Welcome to Angsta Rap…although as he acknowledges that’s one term he may regret coining.
Apart from the science, the lyrics cover everything from suicide, coca cola, the physical embodiment of music and the US administration, but this is far from po-faced hectoring, there’s plenty of humour mixed in, and anyone who performs with a cartoon of Groucho Marx behind them is A) not taking them self too seriously and B) alright in my book.
Accompanied ably by his 6ft 2″ pianist and an effects pedal Scroobius used the later to loop his beat boxing to great effect (I saw singer songwriter Feist do a similar thing at the Royal Albert Hall a few years back).
He also mixes up the beats and poetry with a bit of spoken word, ambling off stage into the audience to deliver his verses.
There’s even a slideshow during some tracks albeit one operated by someone who clearly hasn’t read the manual… no matter Scroobius simply laughs and occasionally prods a few buttons to get the slides back on track. Standout album track “Angles” (covered at length before on this blog) works particularly well with not only slides but Scroobius’s fancy dress kit called into use to illustrate the tale of errmmm well different angles.
A graph of Hip Hop achievement also made an appearance with P Diddy down at one end, Rakim, Public Enemy etc at the top, and Scroobius putting himself somewhere sliding around in between. As someone with a minor “Jesus Walks” obsession I wouldn’t have put Kanye at the bottom myself, but his rapping is admittedly pretty ropey.
Last month Scroobius played with Kate Nash at a packed Fly Bar, and tonight he gave an airing to a new track pilfering a little from Ms Nash. For some reason it put me in mind of Biz Markie’s “Just A Friend“, not lyrically… Unless I missed the line about “small tiny pants and a very big bra” but maybe just in the piano riff.
Aside from the jazzy poetic hip-hop Scroobius has also teamed up with analogue synth spotter and mixer extraordinaire Dan Le Sac for remixes and new material in a much more electronic vein. The Le Sac v Pip live debut was not supposed to take place until Saturday in Reading, but Dan hot footed it over from a set in Brixton for a three song taster of what to expect. The piano was quickly switched for a laptop and a copy of Ableton as some of the tracks from earlier appeared in radical new forms.
“Angles” becomes a great rumbling behemoth of a tune, dark and brooding, but utterly danceable… its hopefully soon to be rerecorded and released as a limited edition single. Understanding the saying “Leave them wanting more” Scroobius departed, leaving Dan hunched intently… sorry I should say, poised over his laptop to continue with his finest electronica. Unfortunately the dreaded Sunday night last Tube dash intervened and I scarpered mid way, but Dan has kindly come to the rescue and put a live set up for download for those that missed out.
All in all Scroobius reaffirmed his status as one to watch, and the night switched from cursed to a blessing for the few that turned up. If you’re anywhere near Reading this Saturday (28th Oct) be sure to make it along for the full Live debut of Le Sac vs. Pip plus if that wasn’t enough the lushness of Vincent Oliver is also on the same bill.
Scroobius Pip – “No Commercial Breaks” – Debut ablum £7 inc P+P – Buy it here with a free vid