Call me Russ L

OK Player-hatah, that’s what they’ll say.

Posted in Music by Russ L on 26 December, 2006

Straight from work over to town on Thursday the 14th, to see The Roots at The Academy. This one wasn’t approached without a fair degree of trepidation. Lots of people say that The Roots are the best live hip-hop act going; some even say they’re the best live act going of any description. I was worried, though. The sort of people who make these claims often strike me as the kind of folk who enjoy long solos, lengthy “When I say Boris, you say Johnson! Boris! (Johnson!) Boris! (Johnson!)” bits, and endless medleys of covers. Live music’s forced-fun equivalents of a firm of dour accountants all wearing party hats with grim determination at a New Year’s Eve do, in other words.

And? Well, at least we escaped one out of the three. Ceaseless numbers of little-bits-of-other-songs assailed the audience. It was lifted no end by some genuinely unexpected choices (I honestly didn’t see ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ or ‘Flavor Flav Cold Lampin’ coming), but still all got a bit Jive Bunny’s Mastermix (as someone far better with turns of phrase than I once said about another gig). The bass and drum solos, meanwhile, went on. And on. And on.

Most people seemed greatly impressed with it all, of course. I doubt all of the people in the place fell into the category mentioned in my first paragraph, but that thought raises the spectre of something even worse. I seriously don’t think the extensive solonanism would have been as rapturously applauded if it hadn’t been a band that most of the massive knew they liked in advance (maybe the covers would, not sure about that). I hate noticing things like this, though. It puts me dangerously close to sharing the thoughts of the sort of elitist people I don’t want to share the thoughts of.

The disappointing thing about all this, of course, was that The Roots were really good when they were behaving themselves. They do create a very effective hard-edged groove, and Black Thought is an incredibly effective leading vocalist. When this constitutes only about 50% of the set, though, it’s a shame.

The best live hip-hop act? I wouldn’t say so – even the good bits weren’t as good as what I’ve seen in the past from Dilated Peoples, Public Enemy etc. The best live act of any description? I laugh in the face of such a claim.

~ Russ L, who was nonetheless amused by the bloke attempting to impress a young lady by doing Peter Crouch-esque bodypopping at her. God loves a tryer.

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