Friday, 11 January 2013

Live Review: James Blake, Mele (BidoLito!) (Feb 13, page 26)

Melé - Residents
The Shipping Forecast
6th December

Since his last appearance in Liverpool, local producer MELÉ has been championed by Annie Mac, appeared in The Boiler Room and produced official remixes for the likes of Wretch-32 and EMI upstarts Bastille. So it is with intrigue and excitement that we await his 12 O’clock return to the intimate setting of The Hold. Animated as ever, Melé brings the party right from the off, almost bouncing off the walls as he takes us through a highlight reel of the last twelve months in electronic music. Flanked by Radio 1’s newest resident Monki, he treats us to an astonishingly energetic set, dropping tracks like Meek Mill’s House Party, his own Beamer and most explosively Joy Orbison’s & Boddika’s Mercy (Boddika’s VIP) with a confidence only acquired when you’ve enjoyed the type of year he has. As the final song fades and and rapturous applause ensues, the mutual love between the young DJ and his local scene radiates from all corners.

The evening's headliner JAMES BLAKE cuts an imposing figure as he towers over the booth, easing us into his set with some unheard new material. The twitchy, stop-start beats move quickly and suddenly, ducking and weaving their way tantalizingly close to that pay off and where your ears might expect. Technically brilliant as it is, it’s difficult to ignore the somewhat subdued atmosphere, as the challenging early moments of his set present a bit of a comedown from the exuberance of Melé moments earlier. The introduction of Digital Mystikz’ seminal Earth a Run Red injects some much needed energy though, as reverent nodding heads are dispelled by ecstatic pumping fists and the scene becomes much more familiar. We are soon taken even closer to Croydon’s Big Apple as Skream’s 2006 classic Glamma reminds us why we were all so excited by dubstep before it collapsed in on itself, the audience clearly appreciating these tunes that are becoming more and more of an enigma in todays shows. 90s R&B makes an appearance as it did with his 20120 CMYK EP, as his own  ‘Harmonimix’ remix of Bills Bills Bills teases you with that sample before crushing it almost beyond recognition, integrating the pop and experimental much like his career has to date.

As 3am approaches and a cold Liverpool beckons, James Blake abruptly halts proceedings and demands everyone’s attention with a moment of silence, before delivering a final masterstroke in what has been a riveting 2 hour set: a full, unedited version of Purple Rain. Now forgive me if hyperbole gets the better of me on this occasion, but as all 250 audience members sing in unison, arm in arm, until the very last refrain, you are forced to remind yourself that you’re not in a John Hughes movie and these moments are actually unfolding in front of you.

2012 has been a year of immeasurable improvements for electronic music in Liverpool, with new promoters bringing in the country’s finest and most challenging artist week in week out. Tonight as the best local talent and one of the country’s biggest names stand shoulder to shoulder,  Melé and James Blake have produced a night that will be retold and reminisced for weeks to come, encapsulating this exciting, ambitious and thriving scene that we find ourselves in.

Mike Townsend

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