Monday, November 28, 2011

James Blake and Mount Kimbie live at the Warehouse Project (Manchester, 26.11.11)

James Blake live
As previously announced, last Saturday Red Cup was in Manchester to witness and cover the R&S Records night at the Warehouse Project.  First off, let's get one thing out of the way: while last summer we also covered an R&S night here in Athens and we also recently travelled to Paris for the Pitchfork Festival and the We Love BoomBox event...this one night in Manchester was far superior in every way starting from the venue, the sound and the organization, all the way to the line-up, the crowd and the overall vibe.  The nostalgic aesthetic of the venue was reminiscent of spontaneous old skool raves while at the same time the organization of the Warehouse Project ensured a smooth night with almost no queues (except for the smoking section!).  The sound in both rooms was loud with thunderous trouser shaking low-ends and clear high-ends.  As for the crowd, one immediately had the sense that they were there for the music - a testament to Manchester's thriving music scene.

As for the line-up the obvious highlights were Mount Kimbie and James Blake who performed live one after the other, and even together for an all too brief moment.

Mount Kimbie live
Mount Kimbie are known for their engaging live shows mostly due to the fact that they actually perform their songs rather than making minor tweaks to a pre-sequenced set.  Usually a typical post-dubstep outfit would sit behind a laptop and bop their heads, leaving us struggling to catch a glimpse of a facial expression in the glow of their screens as the only form of crowd interaction.  This was not the case with this duo who were improvising their tracks on stage, looking to eachother for cues, banging away at all sorts of midi-controllers and even reconstructing textures and sounds on the fly through the unconventional use of an electric guitar. 

Mount Kimbie live
From the opening track "Carbonated" the show was as gripping to watch as it was to listen to.  The duo closed off their set in a typical manner with "Maybes" yet with the (expected) surprise appearance of James Blake on stage to add some vocals and have a go at the gear, who upon getting up exclaimed "this reminds me of old times" (watch the video below). 

James Blake live
Next up was James Blake.  We've said a lot on this blog about the this man's music and while we've been unabashedly praising a lot of his earlier work we've been slightly skeptical as to the vocal turn evident on his latest LP and EPs.  All these concerns were immediately cast aside once we witnessed the sheer power of his voice in combination with a stripped down live set-up (James on the synthesizers, a guitarist who also was triggering some samples and a drummer with an acoustic and electronic kit).  

James Blake live
Songs that we might have skipped over on the LP sounded immense, while he breathed further life into record highlights such as "Limit to Your Love" and "The Wilhelm Scream".  Older, vocal-less and more electronic tracks such as "CMYK" were also given the live treatment to astonishing results (watch the video below).  Needless to say this was one of those unique and memorable live music experiences that forced us to look back at the artist's work and convinced us of his vision. 

In sum, achieving a live performance that is comparable or even surpasses the recorded material is a rare accomplishment in the world of electronic music.  Nonetheless, Mount Kimbie and James Blake have managed to do just that.  

Admittedly, we spent the rest of the night going back and forth between the rest of the acts trying to get as much in, albeit in a more casual way.  Lone's set sounded interesting as always and James Blake's DJ set in the smaller room was based around some banging dubstep tunes, yet he also dropped Drake's "Headlines" which was a welcome surprise.  All in all we really couldn't have asked for more from a night like this.  We're looking forward both to another event at the Warehouse Project as well as another opportunity to see the R&S roster live again.

For more photos and videos head over to the relevant facebook photo album or our youtube channel.

Photos and footage by Vanessa Keen

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