ALASDAIR PAL: '“IT’S DIZZEE FUCKING RASCAL!"...Except it isn’t...Chase and Status grin behind their samplers like a pair of pasty bookends."
The Junction, 16th November, 7.30.
“Am I alright to play a slow one?”, said the polite young man with the guitar. The crowd – hats low, hoods high – shouted that he couldn’t. “Never mind then”, he muttered, as though he had heard it every night of the tour.
Blues singer Liam Bailey is a strange choice to support Chase and Status – and the audience’s reaction says a lot about music in 2010. Unlike opener Maverick Sabre’s canned, obvious dubstep, replete with pre-recorded backing vocals, Bailey is a musician. He plays with a band, and when the guitars and keys are silent, you can hear the crackle and static of real instruments.
So what is a live performance? The rise of the laptop musician has made it a very difficult question. I love Justice, but no-one could ever call their theatrical shows ‘live’ in a traditional sense. Trentemoller and LCD Soundsystem fare much better.
The stage for Chase and Status looks promising. Cymbals hang from a silver ring for drummer Andy Gangadeen, and when MC Rage and the boys strut on stage and launch into Smash TV, they bring enthusiasm that can’t be found behind a pair of decks.
Saxon goes down equally well: a searing bass line and not much else, but one which characterises everything good about dubstep. During Eastern Jam, as Gangadeen hammers on the toms, Rage parts the crowd for the first time of many, and at the drop the two sides surge toward each other.
We’re promised slew of guest vocalists, and here lies the problem. Songs with sampled hooks can be carried by sheer force, but those with vocals really suffer without the original artist. Plan B is sorely missed on End Credits and Pieces.
“IT’S DIZZEE FUCKING RASCAL!”, shouts Rage during Heavy. Except it isn’t; it’s a badly-synched graphic on a screen. Doing not very much at all, Chase and Status grin behind their samplers like a pair of pasty bookends.
A mixture of mid-teens, and those bald guys with fat necks who inexplicably turn up at gigs, the crowd cannot be faulted for enjoying the popular stuff. But the better moments pass with little recognition. Vocalist Takura delivers a haunting version of Streetlife, but lacking a huge drop, they just aren’t interested.
It’s telling that when Bailey returns to the stage for so-so new single Blind Faith, he gets a much better response. His slinking, sinewy riffs should have been a success, but they can’t compete with anything knocked up on a computer for ferocity.
This show will sell out wherever it goes, but bass heads would do better heading to Spoonfed and pocketing the difference.