Thursday, July 16, 2009

Review: Jamie Lidell at Melkweg

Still holding that new theatre smell, Melkweg's Rabo Zaal kick started 5DaysOff this evening with British born Berliner and nu-soul/electro man, Jamie Lidell.
Anyone that knows Jamie only via latest album Jim, or track 'Multiply', that made it onto the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack may have been shocked by the night that followed. Gone was the more evident elements of his soul sound, instead enveloping his electronic and experimental funk sides with a vibrant, hectic and eclectic attitude to his songs. The usual smoothness of 'Figured Me Out' gave way to spazzed-out jazz-funk with baritone sax and 'Little Bit Of Feel Good' turned into a fucked up (compliment) off centre rhythm with bone shaking, clunky percussion. It was around 'Green Light' that Jamie explained himself. The 5DaysOff crew had asked for something special, something unique. With just a couple of days to throw that 'something' together he and his band developed a set to keep people guessing, riding on spontaneity and the odd bit of improvisation. Jamie, not set behind a keyboard as such, but more an entire sound desk or work station manipulating keys, laptop, sampler and live overdubs. However through the changes one constant remained - Jamie's soulful voice, clean and crisp in sweet falsetto, gruff and stylistically strained in the rock. It was both the backbone and the centre piece to the show.

Giving the band a break midway through the set he used that voice instead for beat-boxing. What started as a simple boom-bap beat grew as he manipulated more layered vocal patterns; a bass here, a high note there, a sound-bite from a lyric of his, Once the beat was right he came to the front of the stage and began 'When I Come Back Around' before bringing it back to a two-step deal - hard and sharp.Photobucket

These days phones can so often ruin a show - if not for a poorly timed ring than for constant shitty video capturing that ends up on youtube. Jamie instead decided to embrace the technology. 'Take out your phones', tell me you're not making us use them instead of lighters for a ballad, Jamie? Nope. 'Play your ringtone'. A couple of hundred people hold their phones in the air playing their ringtone. Embarrassed by my stock standard Nokia fare I scrolled quickly through my playlist. How the fuck did Guru Josh get on my phone? As Jamie collected a few phones from the front row and recorded them into his mic I played 'Infinity 2008' even receiving an agreeable nod from a fellow 'fan'. Liz, beside me is playing Kanye's 'Touch The Sky', of course. What came about were chirping crickets under the delicate 'All I Wanna Do'.Photobucket'Wait For Me' was dedicated to Dolly Parton as a rocked up gospel number that rose and fell like a revival tent going town to town. Jamie's dance moves came into their own here. Missing the rhythm of a James Brown good foot but with the enthusiasm of a Muppet and possession of a fat southern preacher the lanky lad jittered and jaunted around the stage.

'Multiply' showed the crowd new his older stuff. The 'My Girl'esque bassline was replaced by a deep doo-wop a capella before Jamie and band lead us all through the glorious chorus, 'I'm so tired of repeating myself, beating myself up, wanna take a trip and multiply, least go under with a smile'.

And if we couldn't be uplifted anymore he played 'Another Day' straight, admittedly with some relief. Such a perfectly crafted song altered could have left the crowd on less of a high note. But the relatively direct version sent a warm glow throughout the crowd. The Motown swing somehow reminds me of watching New York through Sesame Street, of a carefree summer day in Central Park, kids running through sprinklers. As with Multiply, the band dropped out, leaving it to the fans, there may have even been some swaying from the audience. The band lined up and took as couple of bows as a few determined punters tried to build it up one last time but to no avail. As we left the hall and moved down the stairs it seemed everyone was hooked on the hook, singing loud, singing proud; 'Another day, another way, for me to, open up to you' before trying to perfect Jim's wail… One guy hit it. The rest of us were shit.

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