Jurassic 5 All Nighter – Chali 2na, Krafty Kuts, Mr Thing and DJ Nu-Mark

Let’s take you back to the concrete streets
Original beats with real live mc’s
Playground tactics
No rabbit in a hat tricks
Just that classic
Rap s**t from Jurassic

It was concrete streets that introduced me to Jurassic 5, and still Power in Numbers is one of my all time favourite albums. The 4 MC’s running the track, passing the lyrics between them like a relay baton, some times mid line, some times all holding it at once. Their rap was understandable not undecipherable and the beats from Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark were for me the embodiment of great Hip Hop.

It was always Chali 2na’s deep baritone voice that I loved, although the interplay between all the rappers were what made J5 so good, the track didn’t seem complete until Chali rumbled in, so while I wasn’t sure what it would be like to see him on his own, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him live, and then see Nu-Mark at the after party.

I arrived just as A Skillz was finishing the warm up, and shortly after Krafty Kuts and Chali 2na came out onto the stage to a welcome louder than seemed possible from the size of the crowd. Playing old school Hip Hop with Chali rapping over the top the crowd were bouncing and dancing from the opening tune. Although there were a number of phones in the air recording bit and pieces, when Chali implored the crowd to put their hands high nearly every one did, something that seems to be becoming rarer these days.

I didn’t know all the songs that they did, but they in no way lessened the sheer pleasure of hearing him rap, and at one point he busted out the robot which was loudly appreciated by the crowd.

The highlight though was Krafty Kuts playing a new track, It Ain’t My Fault which features Chali and MC Dynamite, who guested. Watching Dynamite and 2na interact on the stage, and the smile on 2na’s face, it felt that as good as he is on his own, Chali misses the rest of the J5 crew on stage to interact and share the flow with. At one point he told the crowd that J5 was his past, his present and his future, and as much as he is clearly enjoying working with Krafty Kuts, it almost feels like a fling, until the time comes for a full on re-union.

He finished with concrete streets and Krafty blasted out Bob Marley’s Could You Be Loved that brought the house down and was a fitting end to a gig filled withgreat tunes.
As people flowed out the doors, making their way down through Islington to Nu-Mark, Chali jumped down to the barriers and patiently chatted and took photo’s with the crowd, about 20 minutes later I has my own photo and headed out into the night.

I walked into the Runnin’ by the Pharcyde at the after party  as Mr Thing scratched and turntabled his way through a large portion of the Tribe Called Quest back catalogue and some Hip Hop classics. Nu-Mark came on at half 1 and switched it up a notch, and switched the styles to play some brilliant beats mixed in with old school classics, and a slice of disco. I spent the entire time dancing in amongst the crowd who all had the same appreciation as I did for the music.

At 3am I finally stood still, aching all over, with a free CD from Nu-Mark and another photo. My knees hurt, my legs hurt but it was worth it, the whole night had been filled with great beats still reverberating through my head as I headed home through the concrete streets.

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Catfish and the Bottlemen

I’d never actually heard of Catfish and the Bottlemen before my mate asked if I fancied wandering down to Brixton Academy to watch them. I called them up on youtube and watched the video for Hourglass, marvelling at how much the lead singer looked like Ewan McGregor, oh, it is Ewan McGregor. Loved the song though, so I listened to more, Pacifier, Cocoon, Business. I loved all of these as well. They are really good. Apparently the critics reviews have been mixed, but then, who listens to critics anyway? I’ve never really understood the point of them, it’s so subjective, if I was the only person in the world who loved a band, I would still buy their music and go to their shows, now that would be intimate. Anyhoo, here are a band who have a lot of emotion and energy, whose lyrics give away their youthful attitude (there are times when I can’t escape the feeling that they’ve just come straight from a smoke and a fumble behind the bike sheds) and who apparently sound like the Artic Monkeys and the Cribs to name but a couple.

So we got to the Academy just after half 8, queued up for 20 minutes for a pint of Tuborg, probably the worst lager in the world, and hustled half way down to the front, annoying some Welsh dude who looked like Jesus and seemed to have been standing in his spot since the doors opened and didn’t expect anyone to stand in front of him. We moved to the side. I looked around, I felt like I was in the middle of a school trip. “We are old enough to be everyone’s parents” I whispered to my mate, indeed the few people who we weren’t old enough to have fathered, were in fact the fathers of the ones we could have done. “We’re about twice the age of the band” he whispered back as they swaggered on stage to a rendition of Helter Skelter.

Opening with Rango, the crowd were rocking from the start. I couldn’t sing as I didn’t know the songs, but the crowd knew them, they sung them, they were on shoulders, looking around at their mates shouting and waving their arms. I jumped and clapped though, when the songs came on that I recognised, I got caught up in the infectious atmosphere as the odd pint of beer went arching overhead. Pacifier, Business and Kathleen were big songs, almost anthems, but it was Homesick that blew the roof off, the whole crowd (except me) sung the first verse with the band backing, and it was one of the loudest sing-along’s I have every heard, then the whole of Brixton Academy (including me) jumped to the chorus. There was an acoustic version of hourglass which I sung along to as I did to Cocoon, as they played their debut album, The Balcony, to a sold out audience at Brixton who knew every word.

Afterwards, as we streamed out into the mild Brixton night I couldn’t quite place how I felt, it was a great gig from a brilliant band but I had felt sort of detached. It wasn’t until this morning I realised that it’s because I didn’t know the songs. But not only that, while I was looking around at the kids around me, these songs had meanings for them already, and while I was a generation older, their love and energy took my back to my youth, going to gigs with groups of mates, singing along to songs that had impacted my life, had got me over an ex or soundtracked a holiday, and that’s what Catfish and the Bottlemen do so well, their short, sharp, punching songs will be tied to memories of their biggest fans for years to come, and that is the sign of a great album from a great band.

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Something in the air?

Shortly after going to see the last ever Faithless gig in March I had another one lined up at a student union in London to see The Airborne Toxic Event with a mate.  We were going chiefly because we both loved Sometime Around Midnight, quite possibly the greatest break up song ever penned and recorded.  We didn’t know any of their other songs and after arriving decided that if it was crap we would leave after they played Sometime Around Midnight and go for a drink somewhere else.
two hours later, as the final chords evaporated into the air at the end of the encore, we were still there, clapping and cheering having been converted to absolute fans.  Apart from the fact that the band were brilliant live, it was the first gig I had been too in a long time where I had no expectations, where I wouldn’t be connecting the songs to some point in my life or singing my heart out to a song I felt had been written especially for me (which for example, was exactly what I did at the Faithless gig).
By being slightly out of the circle of fans, I watched other people, saw how they had the same connections with songs and the band that I had at other gigs.  You realise that everyone feels the same way as you do, that although it can be deeply personal, it’s actually universal.  But most of all it allowed me to completely take the gig for what it was, a great band playing a great show and to just completely throw myself into it.

So I’m currently listening to their last album, All At Once, looking forward to Saturday, when I’m seeing them again, with the same mate.  I’m still think Sometime Around Midnight is their best song, followed closely by Does This Mean Your Moving On but I know it will be a great show..
Sometime Around Midnight YouTube video here
Does This Mean Your Moving on Youtube video here