STEREO MC’S – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 07.12.19
Tonight, we headed down to the ever popular Concorde 2 on Brighton seafront in order to open up our Stereo Mc’s account. Strangely neither of us had actually witnessed them perform live before and so we weren’t really sure what to expect. Sure we knew the hit singles, but not really far beyond that, so it was going to be an interesting encounter.
The band formed in mid 80’s, inspired by electronic music and early Hip Hop. They pressed up their first 12” vinyl and started an independent record label called G Street Records which released many UK hip hop artists and signed US acts such as Jungle Brothers. Shortly after they signed to Island/4th and Broadway records and released their first LP and toured extensively as a live act, garnering a reputation on multi tours and festivals. Their 3rd LP ‘Connected’, released in 1992, became a worldwide hit and the song ‘Connected’ became a classic tune.
Winding on some time, in 2015, tired of the major record label bubble, and a love of dance music they decided to go back to their roots and embark on a new label project and the label ‘Connected’ was born. Initially as a vehicle for themselves to release music, but now also in order to release other artists music. Encompassing Afro House, Deep House and Techno and all variations of those genres, with distribution through Kompakt records in Cologne, the label has grown extensively in the last few years and is now past its 40th release.
This evening, there was no support act, but an hours worth of Stereo MC’s mixtape to get the punters in the right frame of mind. Slowly but surely the venue got busier and I reckon that the last few remaining tickets might just have been snapped up prior to the band coming on stage and thus it had become a sold out event.
At 8:30pm the lights dimmed and on strolled a handful of people, who performed until 9:33pm. They returned on stage at 9:35pm and performed until 9:55pm. Right then, that’s the timings out of the way! So what happened I hear you cry! Well…………
Well……they were bloody brilliant! We were both absolutely stunned, as we had not anticipated the quality of the 14 compositions being thrust at us. We had NOT flagged this gig up as one to get really excited about. Stupid, stupid, stupid people! Why hadn’t we ever bothered to see these guys before? What were we thinking? At the end of the set, frontman Rob Birch came out to meet the crowd and I jolly well congratulated him and apologised in person for not having seen them play live before. My colleague piped up just as the gig finished, saying that tonight went straight into his ‘Top 5 Gigs Of The Year’.
Why the ‘rave’ review? We just weren’t expecting it. If you saw Rob walking along the street, many would not have an inkling as to his chosen profession and is a classic case of not judging a book by their cover. He oozed warmth with his performance, it’s the same feeling you get from a Dreadzone show. Rob was clearly bringing the crowd along on his journey and from the first track, it’s fair to say that everyone around us at the front were well up for it. I hadn’t had a chance to look around by this stage, but when I later did, it appeared that everyone was out for a great time!
Vocalist Rob, who was proudly donning his ‘Connected’ boilersuit and Air trainers, was flanked by two terrific backing singers, Cath and Aina, who both had powerful voices and the moves and timing to match. At the rear of the stage and very much behind the scenes, was where all the magic was taking place, care of Nick’s Apple Mac, Laptop and knob twiddling DJ skills, as well as being accompanied by Tansay on percussion.
Tonight, is an absolute classic case of ‘you must be here live to experience it moments’. You can’t tell the quality by just playing some clips on YouTube or playing their albums – you have to be here, as it is BETTER than their recorded output. The sound was crisp and none of the tracks sounded at all out of date. It was a funky night and there was copious amounts of bopping from all age generations present.
Four of the first five songs were culled from the hit ‘Connected’ album, including the title track, which encouragingly was the fifth out. How confident can you get when you play arguably your most recognisable tune so high in the set.
Track six ‘Changes’, which is found on 2017 Adam Port & Stereo MC’s ‘Changes’ EP, was a seriously bangin’ choon. It was followed by the oldest track of the night, ‘On 33’ from 1989, but it was track 8, where the crowd started an impromptu “I want to go higher” chorus for ‘Elevate My Mind’, from their 1990 ‘Supernatural’ album. Whilst everyone was one a higher plateau, we were served ‘Step It Up’, with the crowd singing “To the left to the right; Step it up step it up it’s alright….”. This was quite possibly choon of the night, and it somehow reminded me of The Shamen or The KLF, but with the Stereo MC’s own vibe. My previous observations were confirmed when ‘Ground Level’ was delivered next. Now this certainly did sound like The KLF’s ‘What Time Is Love’ and has just eclipsed ‘Step It Up’ as choon of the night.
‘Creation’ followed which started just like Cerrone’s classic ‘Supernature’ and arguably during the encore tracks ‘The Here & Now’ (found on 2008 ‘Double Bubble’ album) and ‘Place’ (from 2014’s Various Artists ‘Workparty Five’ EP), there was a nod to the Faithless sound.
Rob balanced on the top of the speakers at the front several times during the performance and gave a nod to the crowd by stating “You certainly know how to belt out a lot of noise!”.
Next time they announce a concert in these here parts, we will be at the head of the queue!
Tonight’s musicians were:
Rob Birch (vocals)
Nick Hallam aka ‘The Head’ (DJ mixing)
Tansay Halil-Ibrahim (percussion)
Cath coffey (backing vocals)
Aina Roxx (backing vocals)
Stereo MC’s setlist reads:
‘Fade Away’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Everything’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Black Gold’ (found on 2008 ‘Double Bubble’ album)
‘Pressure’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Connected’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Changes’ (found on 2017 Adam Port & Stereo MC’s ‘Changes’ EP)
‘On 33’ (found on 1989 ‘33 45 78’ album)
‘Elevate My Mind’ (found on 1990 ‘Supernatural’ album)
‘Step It Up’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Ground Level’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Creation’ (found on 1992 ‘Connected’ album)
‘Running’ (found on 2001 ‘Deep Down & Dirty’ album)
‘The Here & Now’ (found on 2008 ‘Double Bubble’ album)
‘Place’ (found on 2014 Various Artists ‘Workparty Five’ EP)
Further information about Stereo MC’s can be found HERE.
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