Call me Russ L

Breakneck speed I down ten pints of bitter

Posted in Music by Russ L on 8 January, 2006

Originally posted on 3/12/5.

Despite being tired and having had an annoying day I managed to leave quite early for the Roots Manuva gig at The Academy on the 29th of November, with the hope of seeing the support acts. Did I manage? Did I fffffff… orget my ticket? ‘No’ and ‘yes’ respectively. Fortunately the old man was good enough to offer me a lift for my second attempt.

I got there just in time to hear the last half-song by main support Plan B – a rapper with an acoustic guitar, which isn’t something you see every day. The bit I heard seemed to be a fairly gruesome story about someone being cut up (laceration, not motoring), but it was definitely a unique sound. As soon as he finished several different groups of people standing near me immediately started to enthuse, so I may well have missed something interesting. Another time, perhaps.

You may have been surprised by the first paragraph of this, when you read the name ‘The Academy’ and I didn’t immediately lapse into involuntary spasms of vitriol. Now give me a minute to compose myself because it’s not easy for me to say this, but I’m actually going to… defend them. Or the staff there, anyway. The crowds at the bar on the balcony were fairly busy. Not terrible by Academy standards, but we were all having to wait a while. This was compounded by not one but two seperate people asking for water at the section of the bar in front of me. Apparently that bar doesn’t have any taps that can dispense any water fit for human consumption. It probably should have, of course, so that’s yet another black mark against the Academy and all the rest of it. This wasn’t what annoyed me, though. What bothered me was that both of the water-less parties then decided to argue the bloody toss about it. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell the barman it’s ridiculous, a tap won’t magicaly appear. Pretending to not know where the other bar is won’t conjure a fridge full of bottled water out of nowhere. I’ve moaned about the staff at this place many times in the past, but I’m pretty sure they don’t get paid enough to have to put up with face-to-face passive-aggressive harangues from people who know perfectly well that they can’t argue back (I notice none of them asked to see a manager or anything, they were much more content to pick on those who could get sacked for replying in the way deserved). You’re also keeping everyone else trying to get a drink waiting. Including me. May your children be blighted by deformity, you fucking poltroons.

Roots Manuva seemed very different to the last time he was in Brum. The gig in February was all about building up and pulling down towers of dubby bass, solemn pillars of sound. This one was a part-ay. It’s entirely possible, of course, that there was nothing different in their approach from one to the other and that it’s just the way I’ve perceived it. Maybe the previous gig being in front of an OK but not massive crowd in the cavernous Academy main room and this being (comparatively) more up close and approachable in a busy Academy 2 has something to do with it. Who knows?

The sound was initially quite messy, until ‘Awfully Deep’ smashed through the murk and blew the roof off the place with its massive synth-riding chorus. ‘Too Cold’ was especially skanking, and a Calypso-ish Caribbean-sounding one that I forget the name of (it’s not on any of the albums. I really should write these things sooner after the gigs) made everyone forget it was winter. There was an amazing cover of something, although again I forget what (no, I don’t know why you’re bothering to read this either). ‘Witness (1 Hope)’ made people happy, which isn’t a surprise although it didn’t provoke the uproar it did in February, and ‘Dreamy Days’ made for a wonderful closer to the main set. I honestly can’t make my mind up if I enjoyed this set more than his previous one or not. I have been listening to little but Roots Manuva since then, though, so I’m more than content to just say that both were amazing. That’ll do me.

~ Russ L

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