simon green -

“We’re back!” a gleeful Matt Black bellowed at those gathered under Cargo’s arches for this the launch party for their first LP in 8 long years. To say I’d been looking forward to this is an understatement, Coldcut have over the past (almost) 20 years shaped my outlook on music, technology, not to mention the politics. From the moment a 16 year old me was blown away by “Beats’n’Pieces” and “Doctorin’ The House” I’ve been a borderline Coldcut obsessive! I interviewed Matt for my degree dissertation (itself a Coldcut inspired opus on music and interactivity), for years I had a huge mural of their “Stop This Crazy Thing” cover painted on my bedroom wall, and have had my musical palette stretched by “the broadest beats” on their radio show since the late 80’s, including times when I appeared to be one of the few listeners (which is great as my CD collection swelled with all the competitions i won on the show). I probably wouldn’t even be working in the job I am without their inspiration (although I dont blame them entirely for this ;)).

The point of this long rambling “suck-up” is that Im perhaps not the most impartial reviewer of the “Sound Mirrors” launch party. I’d also like to recommend the album, its fun, funky, frustrating even, but most of all…fucking fabulous.. in short, classic Coldcut covering all the musical bases from Bollywood, House, Hip Hop, and Pop.

Order it from Ninjatune here, Amazon, or from itunes if you like your music DRM’ed and without any lovely packaging.
Stream: “Sound Mirrors” Full Album Stream player
Download: Roots Manuva guests on Tru Skool MP3 visit here. (limited time)
For more pics check out Headancers gallery now.

simon green

A quick google search reveals that reaction to the night was mixed. Andy Matthew’s blogged it as “Possibly one of the best gigs I’ve been to”, Insidious Pleasures not only thought it was good but also got chatted up by someone masquerading as a playwright. On the other hand Rovastar on the BigChill forums thought it “was pretty poor and unprofessional, to be honest” and that tome of youth culture worried that:

there was something deeply dated about their noodlings, raising serious doubts about their ability to relate to the younger generation.

simon green

In truth from the second the lights dimmed and to great applause they attempted to kick the show off they were hampered by technical faults. The poor sod (Mike?) who was controlling some of the visuals wore an expression of bewilderment and fear on his face for most of the first half…glancing to Matt by his side as if to say “i dont know what the fuck this machine is doing”. Hopefully as the tour progresses then the glitches will be ironed out, but my guess is that theres so much equipment on stage “something” is bound to go wrong.
Headancer put it like this:

i loved the shambolic nature of this production in places…
that’s because coldcut are pushing it with the technology they always have.

Towards the end the screens showed bears juggling plates some flying off and shattering, some wobbling madly, and for me that sums up Coldcut live. It was four guys with too much equipment, having fun, trying to keep those plates spinning. One fantastic moment saw Matt set off a drum and bass version of the can-can, gleefully pounding the button to fire off the loop of brass section, and can can footage above. Unfortunately the plates wobbled and beats were missed, sound sped up like a Kanye West record, all the while Jon More wet himself laughing as his manic partner in crime fought to pull the track back into shape to much applause from the audience. It was as if he’d tamed a wild horse not a Pentium 3 PC.

They played many of the classics, including a slightly subdued version of Atomic Moog, and a barn storming take on Timber, where all the equipment seemed to finally fuse together. There are not many acts who can claim scratched up versions of Ken Clarke and Tony Blair as highlights, but Revolution is always good, although ive seen it done much better before when they’ve played their original version not a remix.

simon green

Mike Ladd and Juice Aleem acted as compares for the night, and held the show together with much finesse. As much at home improvising with “man verses machine or machine vs man” ad-libs during one of the technical faults, or at the end of the show staging a MC duel as Matt & Jon mixed up a history of hip hop in the background. One of the many highlights of the evening was the two of them doing “Everythings Under Control”. It took me a while to like this track, but live it certainly works..almost blowing the roof off the venue. Its big, loud, and perfect for getting the audience jumping up and down shouting along.

Where the show did go flat was on some of the new tracks with featured vocalists. Its the Gorillaz syndrome, ie that tracks with guest vox aren’t much cop unless the said vocalist is on stage. Otherwise excellent tunes like “Man In A Garage” & “Whistle & A Prayer” felt a bit lost with only a disembodied singer on the screen. Where Damon can afford to get Ike Turner along just to play 4 seconds on keyboard I doubt Coldcut can, and in the case of Root Manuva they didn’t need to. Initially we were teased “would we like a guest performer”…yes please we yelled back hoping for Roots, but No…. he was only present in cut up form on screen, but such is the uplifting power of the tune and Mr Manuva he almost stole the whole show.

simon green

I’ve raved about “Walk A Mile” the standout track on their new album already (see top 100 of 2005) so I was looking forward to the billed guest appearance by house legend Robert Owens. What I wasn’t prepared for was his skin tight see through top which as I was right at the front gave me a 15 minute view of his nipples (if only he could have swapped tops with the superb Mpho Skeef who joined him on vocals:)!)
And I challenge anyone to Walk A Metre in the most pointy winkle-pickers ive ever seen let alone a Mile!

Robert owens – ‘the voice of dance music’ or old bloke getting his paycheck?

So asked a charming Lenodd discussing the gig. For me it was a privilege to see him in person performing Walk A Mile and to many peoples surprise “People Hold On”..if only they’d gone the whole hog and thrown in “The Only Way Is Up”! While I dont think his voice was as good as it is on the spine chillingly beautiful record, and there were a few too many ohhhh wohh woh woh’s for my liking I think the crowd were eating out of his hand for the whole of the 15 minute live house section.
Another forumer Simon said it much better than I could:

Robert owens. what can i say. omg.. heart-warming stuff… the audience were dancing and smiling and hugging. oh wow.

simon green

Overall the evening was fantastic, yes there were technical glitches, but even these were handled so well they almost added to the fun. They dont take themselves too seriously, that coupled with a playfulness, and boundless enthusiasm is infectious.

Check out the Big Chill forum for a very entertaining row about the professionalism of the show… should they have used Jungle Book, are they thieves… and was it a better visual performance than Strictly Come Dancing – all this and more answered on the Big Chill

Here’s a pic of the subdued audience…furious at such a unprofessional show (including a tired and emotional me in the middle)

simon green

I took quite a lot of video footage of the gig but unfortunatly the firewire port on my mac has given up the ghost, so i’ll post it if I get it working/get a new computer!

More reviews also at:
This is London
Big Chill Main Review
Sams japan today
Jonny Baker
Indie London

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