HOT IN THE CITY
Dance and electro fans were in seventh heaven at this year’s Metropolis, with Death In Vegas, Leftfield and Todd Terje among the myriad RDS highlights. Report: Claire O’Gorman Photography: David Green
SATURDAY Although only in its third year, Metropolis is already a mainstay on the Irish scene – bridging the gap between the summer festivals and the busy Christmas period. Despite having to make a line-up change this time around (leaving us all in need of some TLC), tickets flew out the door.
Known primarily as a dance festival, this year’s bill seems to lean even more heavily towards electro and house. Cosily wrapped up in our woollies, we catch the first act of the weekend –
Jack Dunne. It being just 4pm, the crowds have yet to join us – a massive shame. The young producer’s ambient techno deserves an audience, and we’re glad we’re among those who made it for this wonderfully atmospheric set.
FJAAK follows him on the same stage, with the Berlin trio bringing a more up-tempo sound as the crowd grows. Their house and techno tunes have people dancing and already pumped at an early hour. We leave the Warehouse stage to witness Newbridge duo Mix And Fairbanks in the Industries Hall. Their very funky, electronic set is expertly mixed: we can’t help but dance. A highlight is Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ being teased out with a sample, before a seamless transition into the full song.
Back on the Warehouse stage, Richard Fearless, aka Death In Vegas, really sets the night off. His melodic electronic set is enhanced by a brilliant light show, with the rig extending all the way into the audience. He goes down a storm.
Laurent Garnier follows on the same stage with a beat-driven set – you could feel the kick drum in your chest. Providing the best backdrop visuals we’ve seen yet, Garnier leans more on textures than melody and delivers for every minute of his allotted two hours.
Elsewhere, Seany B puts smiles on faces, starting with some fun disco cuts, before progressing to a more house and dance sound.
Bingo Loco has been making itself a festival essential. Playing to a raucous crowd makes the bingo almost impossible, but the loco element more than compensates. They throw crowdpleasing classics such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Zombie Nation’ at a ravenous crowd, who devour every last morsel.
Appetites firmly whetted, we sprint to the Warehouse stage, where headliners Leftfield are playing their classic Leftism album in full. They give a masterclass in mixing live instrumentation with electronics and have the crowd in the palms of their hands, as fans rave to their sound and watch in awe at the ever-changing visuals. Quite simply, this is dance music at its best.
Le Boom have the crowd on their feet at the Bulmers Live stage, their impressive pulsing lights filling the small room, adding to the energy of what is an intimate experience. Repeatedly expressing their appreciation, this twosome may take nothing for granted, but they definitely deserve the attention and love they’re getting.
We make our first venture to the main stage to catch Booka Brass. The eight-piece have been delighting audiences – including on one occasion our esteemed President Michael D. Higgins – with their soulful grooves for a number of years. Blending reggae, soul and jazz, Booka show how to work effectively as a unit, while also individually showcasing their skills with solos.
Peggy Gou is the first act with queues out the door: we enter a scene with punters going crazy to some of the most intense dance music we’ve heard so far. A total change of scene is on the cards as Jazzy Jeff takes to the main stage, mixing R&B, hip-hop, rock and dance in a seamless way that all makes sense. Employing two MCs to hype up the crowd, it’s clear that this man knows what he’s doing.
Jungle have us spellbound with an incredible backdrop, spelling out the band’s name for any drop-ins who might not know who they are. A sixpiece, they deliver drawn out grooves that build to the point of crescendo but never go over that line. The result is a consistently intense energy throughout, their soulful vocals sitting nicely against a backdrop of electro and R&B beats. Closing out with a crowd-pleaser, they make sure the audience ‘Can’t Get Enough’.
We remain in place for Todd Terje – the man tasked with closing the action on the main stage. He lives up to the challenge with a series of his finest dance anthems. Holding out for a long time, he eventually delivers his pièce de résistance, ‘Inspector Norse’ – and away we go with its infectious melody stuck in our heads for the night. Metropolis – you delivered again. See you next year.
BluesFest, 3Arena, Dublin After a superb set by R&B legend Chaka Khan – climaxing with an awesome jam on ‘Ain’t Nobody’ – the scene is perfectly set for Nile Rodgers and his band of merry men and women. One of the finest live acts around, the disco icons have an embarrassment of musical riches to call upon.
There is a thematic consistency to Chic’s output, with the titles of ‘Everybody Dance’, ‘Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)’ and ‘My Feet Keep Dancing’ succinctly explaining Rodgers’ modus
operandi. The band are unlikely to fall afoul of false advertising legislation either, as 3Arena is transformed into a giant heaving nightclub for the evening.
Rodgers is a man with many strings to his bow, and Chic as always perform a selection of songs from his glittering catalogue of production work and guest appearances. Among the highlights are scintillating takes on Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’, Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, Sister Sledge’s sublime ‘Thinking Of You’ and, of course, Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’.
Way before the latter collaboration introduced Rodgers to a new generation, I first saw Chic play at Tripod back in 2010; a truly special gig, which saw everyone dance nonstop from start to finish. Tonight, in a venue well over ten times bigger, Rodgers – who has since overcome a cancer diagnosis – touchingly acknowledges that the Chic renaissance commenced in Ireland.
It’s heartening that Rodgers’ massive influence is now getting its due recognition (last month, for example, found LCD Soundsystem covering ‘I Want Your Love’ here). Overall, this was a masterclass from one of the most gifted songwriters and producers in pop history, backed by an outstanding band. Good times, indeed.
3Arena, Dublin In his book Jazz: A History, Frank Tirro saw the hipster as “ten steps ahead… looking for something transcendent… finding it in jazz”. Donald Fagen, the eternal hipster, opens with ‘Fan It, Janet’, from Maynard Ferguson’s 1958 album,
A Message From Newport. Hip enough for ya? ‘Green Flower Street’, from 1982 solo album The
Nightfly, is hardly for the casual listener either. However, ‘Black Cow’ and ‘Hey Nineteen’ earn a roar of recognition, prompting Fagen to almost sneer, “You know this one?” Have our hip levels been found wanting? No matter, nights past, and passed, with Cuervo Gold and fine Colombian are joyously toasted.
‘New Frontier’ lifts Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’ keyboards, and Fagen, lost in music, swaying behind shades and keyboards, does at times resemble the Motown genius. ‘Aja’ is an early highlight; saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and drummer Keith Carlock leave every musician present questioning their self-worth. Fagen assists on the melodica, although it’s akin to helping out the Royal Philharmonic by adding a bit of kazoo.
Jon Herington’s guitar playing, so mathematically precise one might wonder if he studied it at M.I.T., carries ‘Black Friday’, while ‘Book Of Liars’ is played for the late Walter Becker. Elsewhere, The Danettes – La Tanya, Carolyn and Cindy – take the vocals for ‘Dirty Work’. Their gloriously half-arsed dancing says they’ve come to sing, not flounce about. A fine stab at Joe Tex’s 1965 belter ‘I Want To (Do Everything
For You)’ throws the crowd slightly, many ducking out to the bar. Fagen himself wanders off during the band introductions, but returns for the allkiller suite of ‘Peg’, ‘My Old School’ and ‘Kid Charlemagne’. ‘Reeling In The Years’ makes for an expectedly celebratory encore, before a rendition of Nelson Riddle’s ‘The Untouchables’ brings proceedings to a close. Hip as fuck. Brilliant too.
3 Arena, Dublin Much has been made of The Waterboys’ transformation in recent years, from flag-bearers of pan-Celtic folk-rock, to an outfit steeped in Southern soul, blues, R&B, gospel and sundry other American genres. Their last album,
Modern Blues, began the restyling process, with the recently-released
Out Of All This Blue – a sprawling 23-track opus – completing the metamorphosis. The dazzingly eclectic record encompasses funk, soul, hip-hop, Philly and even electro; Muscle Shoals via Memphis and Minneapolis doesn’t even come close. In truth, Mike Scott has always pushed the boundaries, and The Waterboys’ vast back catalogue showcases his chameleonic tendencies.
The stage set features a row of old-fashioned film lights, Last
Waltz-style, while the large band includes several American players, as well as long-time Waterboy
Steve Wickham. The fact that so many new songs make up the bulk of the early part of the set proves, em, “challenging” for sections of the audience, who appear restless at times.
However, such is the passion and intensity of Scott’s vocal performance, and the instrumental prowess of the band (special mention to the backing singers who add a classic soul sheen), ultimately the crowd are won over. The songs, while uncharacteristic sounding, are terrific: the achingly melodic ‘Santa Fe’ and the groove-driven ‘If The Answer Is Yeah’ are irresistibly catchy; ‘Do We Choose Who We Love’ has echoes of late-period Curtis Mayfield; and ‘If I Was Your Boyfriend’ – undoubtedly inspired by a similarly titled Prince tune – makes a winning nod to The Faces.
There’s still room in the set for Big Music classics such as the whirlwind rush of ‘Medicine Bow’ and a majestic, piano-led ‘A Girl Called Johnny’ – the latter evoking waves of nostalgia among the crowd. A storming ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ is delivered without much change, arrangement-wise, from the original version; while ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ loses some of its original swing in place of a choppier rhythm, but is still rapturously received.
Ultimately a huge triumph.