Basement Jaxx at Glasgow Barrowlands: Event Review

courtesy of tutupash.com
courtesy of tutupash.com

The Glasgow crowd entering the Barrowlands on November 3th initially hummed with amiable conversation for a quiet Sunday night. This swiftly descended into energetic boogying as Basement Jaxx took to the stage of the iconic dance hall and rock venue, bringing with them an explosion of colour and sound.

The British electronic dance duo took the audience by surprise with a series of guest singers, skilled dancers, Technicolor costume changes, all of which interspersed with dazzling light shows. Coupled with some incessant bongo drumming, the crowd were riled up into a frenzy of feel-good dance vibes where all previous self-conscious notions of politely standing with a pint of Cider-and-Black at the back of a gig were quickly forgotten.

As the opening chords of “Good Luck” sliced through the room, the audience couldn’t help but jab their hands up in the air and sing along as Sharlene Hector from the live tour band declared, “Good luck in your new bed/ enjoy your nightmares honey/ when you’re resting your head!”

Dressed in an electric blue morph-suit number, Sharlene’s multi-coloured appearance was mirrored by fellow singer Nomvula Malinga, who lit up the stage in a rainbow mini-dress as she good-naturedly caught various items of clothing thrown on stage from a cheeky crowd.

The excitement in the room rose as the high-pitched beats and funky twangs of  ‘Red Alert’ turned the room into a mass of flailing hands and bopping feet (with the well-loved contingent of Glaswegian audience members pressed against the barrier bringing a touch of our own brand of ‘raucous’ behaviour and dance-moves to the proceedings).

With the Barrowland’s usual crowd used to the rockier sounds of Biffy Clyro and Arcade Fire, it was truly a sight to see an audience lose its inhibitions and start jiving to the feel-good number, “Do Your Thing,” as trumpets lit up the room.

From an eye-watering display of bright lasers, the venue suddenly descended into darkness as two dancers clad in black and wrapped in flashing green and red lighting tubes moved around the stage to the beat of a commanding bongo rhythm executed by Oli Savill.

With the mood at fever pitch, Basement Jaxx turned the sing-along into a beat-ridden mash of sounds to accompany the dancers. After a short dance-break, their commanding moves eventually melted into the dulcet tones of Elliot Marshall as he began the duo’s latest smooth release “Never say Never.”

Following this brief slowing of pace as Elliot serenaded the crowd, the captivating Korean duo Chay Chay and Emma Lee arrived to take over the night with their infectious number “Back 2 the Wild,” accompanied by a catchy dance routine of animal movements and perfectly synchronised arm-waving. With every repetition of the lyrics “Are you ready to go?/ Do you wanna go?”, the Glaswegian crowd were practically ready to jump on the next plane to the jungle, if only to make the show last longer.

A personal highlight (if only because of its capacity to fuel an overwhelming sense of nostalgia) stood out with a beautiful acoustic rendition of “Romeo,” which kicked into the up-beat tune that was my soundtrack to 2001. Considering the fact that I was ten years old at the time of the track’s release, to hear it again amongst a mixed crowd of all ages left a smile on everyone’s face. Led by the singer Kele Le Roc dressed in a stylish galaxy-print cat-suit, the whole room was singing along with the line “You used to be my Romeo” and cracking out some Bollywood inspired moves in homage to the music video. Ah, memories.

As the night progressed, the thoughts of the impending Monday morning the next day were soon blasted away as the duo turned the show into a frantic dj-set of lasers and loud sounds. Whilst the group teased with a few guitar chords of oldie “Rendevouz,” the night culminated in a crescendo of noise as all members of the live tour rejoined the duo on stage to ask the breathless crowd: “Where’s your head at?”

After being somewhat hidden behind their instruments throughout the show, it was refreshing to see the faces behind Basement Jaxx, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe, come to the front of the stage for the finale to engage with their hooked crowd. From a ballerina to a man dressed as a gorilla climbing on top of the speakers, the madness bounced off the stage as both musicians and audience-members broke into frenzied dancing to the stand-out finale.

Throughout the night, each singer notably impressed with controlled vocals resonating over the imposing dance music. With Basement Jaxx switching the tempo regularly between energetic dance numbers and laid-back jams, the audience didn’t know whether to sway or jump along, creating a night of impulsive dance moves as the crowd reacted to each track.

After initially forming in 1994, the duo’s sound still commanded the crowd ten years later, signaling their place over the years as a firm institution of dance music. Following the performance, Glasgow rewarded the group with open arms and singing voices, and kept up the dancing as the crowd dispersed into the cold winter air. What a way to spend a school night on a Sunday.

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