Live at TJ's Woodhouse Club on Friday, 12th March 2010
My first time at TJ's, and what a treat. Expecting Peter Kay to come wheeling around the corner any minute, the whole venue does have this excellent Phoenix Nights vibe about it. Like you could completely legitimately have an eightieth birthday party there, or a bingo night or something. But, never the less, the events room slowly transformed itself from would-be Butlins cabaret night setting into a fully fledged electronic dance temple by the time Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet graced the stage.
Leading up to the event, we had two masterful examples of what it really means to build an atmosphere through music. Rocketnumbernine, a twosome entirely consisting of the electronic synth capabilities of Ben Page and the intuitive drumming of brother Tom Page, were up first. I enjoyed watching people stand up slowly but surely in twos and threes from their conservative seats; standing far back from the stage at first and then slowly shuffling forwards bit by bit. Rocketnumbernine start off small, with minimal jazz like percussion and subtle electric plinks and plonks and build and progress into big, transformative waves of sound; a sonic power that almost creeps up on you without you necessarily being aware of how you got there. Intoxicating, in short.
An aura of experimentalism would very much continue with Germany's Pantha du Prince. With an ability to create a kind of minimalist techno with rolling beats that swoosh and swirl like undulating sand dunes, Pantha du Prince will lightly decorate his soft house bass lines with tinkling angelic percussion. Playing a much longer set than expected, at around forty five minutes non-stop, one beat breeding from the next and creating another in its turn, Pantha du Prince held the crowd mesmerised for the majority; caught up in the techno rise and fall, hypnotised by a vision of futuristic otherworldly musicality. If you do anything productive today, go hook your ears round 'Stick To My Side'; revel in the masterful layering of weird sounds that manage to create something so simple and so haunting.
Thankful that TJ's had clearly decided to abandon the original 11pm curfew, by 10.45 when Four Tet came to the stage, there wasn't a square foot of space to be had in the now completely transformed venue. Kicking off with the spookily brilliant 'Angel Echoes' from the new album 'There is Love in You', Hebden seemed to feed off the atmosphere of awe, anticipation and exhilaration that exuded from the hot and sticky audience. While other big anthems from the new album, like 'Love Cry' were dutifully attended to with a deep richness that you can only really get from seeing Four Tet live, older classics like 'A Joy' from 2005's delightful 'Everything Ecstatic' roared out magnificently with its relentless filthy bass line and clamouring jazz percussion. Hebden is truly a man on top of his game, mixing eclectic genres of dance, electro, house, techno and jazz, he seems to reach so much further than other more pigeon holed artists, pushes so many more boundaries, and both lives up to and defeats so many more expectations. These are the thoughts that were swirling round my head while I walked away from TJ's that night, dumbstruck and humbled.