The idea of setting in stone 200 tracks as the undisputed greatest works of music in a given year is slightly daft (especially in February the following year). What is...
The joys of spring. Its been pelting with rain for 36 hours straight and The Southbank Centre, London’s concrete edifice to art is looking fairly bleak.
At the Queen Elizabeth Hall there’s a loud clanking gear shift crowd wise, as the heavy coats and grey hair of a Beethoven Cello Sonata audience push up their umbrellas and scurry into the rain, an assortment of hairstyles and slightly hipper folk arrive for the launch of the Kwesachu 2 mixtape. The first 200 punters snaffle an upfront cassette of the mix to treasure, and quizzically ponder if they know anyone that still owns a tape deck (they could of course download it here).
Charming is the word I’d use to describe Kwes, declaring himself “chuffed” that people have braved the monsoon weather to come down. He’s said he doesn’t savour being the centre of attention but his music ensures he will be. In the last year he’s produced Speech Debelle’s new LP, worked with Damon Albarn in Africa, and braved the spotlight live with his solo material.
Kwes clearly loves collaborating with like-minded people both on record and with one-off live events. After providing a deliciously sparse remix of The Invisible he’s now playing a one-off joint show with them and of course tonight marks the 2nd chapter of his 2009 collaboration with Micachu, “Kwesachu“.
Watching the video (below) about the recording of “Kwesachu 2” what comes across is the mutual admiration that Kwes and Micachu have for each other. It’s also a chance to rope in a load of talented friends, a steady stream of which pop on stage across the course of launch night (with the notable exception of Ghostpoet who’d just got off a plane and didn’t quite make it).
Kwes & Mica are joined by the phenomenal drummer Kwake Bass and Shabaka Hutchings who adds another layer to the sound with some incredible sax work. Kwake Bass and Mica have previously teamed up to create another mixtape last year (download).
At 7pm Speech Debelle was tweeting that she needed to learn her verse but by the time she joined Del for a Big Dada double-header on “Plastic Coins” she’s flawless. A fleeting appearance and a reminder that I really need to see her full live show.
Dels is the mainstay of the evening featuring on three tracks, including the excellent “Bird Milk“. He deadpans the line “Some say I’m just anxious, but I just think I need to eat cheese less” while Bella Wilde brings a touch of glam to the night rocking a pair of zippy PVC trousers and heels while delivering the song’s chorus.
Micachu herself takes main vocal duties on “Awol/Amen” which recalls the poppy accented swagger