Live Music Reviews

Hadouken! @ Electric Ballroom, London

25 April 2013


hadouken To many, the nu-rave scene of seven years ago was a passing phase that flashed by as quickly as the very nature of the music itself – but the band of hardcore, loyal fans who pack out the Electric Ballroom tonight still hear something in all the distortion and sound effects that characterised Hadouken! and their peers.

They swarm around the merch stand – now old enough to make use of the branded hip flasks but still young enough to style out a fluorescent band t-shirt – before Hadouken! take to the stage, prompting a sea of camera phones to rise in unison. There are even traces of a few glow sticks down the front, acting as a flicker of brief past glories, but for everyone here tonight, it’s all about the here and now, and from the off, one huge party can be sensed generating around the venue.

The band have got a point to prove. “I’ve got some dirty laundry, start the f**king washing machine,” orders singer James Smith. The crowd instantly parts to form a huge circle pit, setting the tone for the entire gig. There are no casual bystanders here; from front to back, left to right, everyone is getting stuck in. The set is a combination of old and new, but each song is delivered with the same high level of energy and adrenaline and received with as much enthusiasm from the hyper, raucous, crowd. But whether it’s Levitate, from latest album Every Weekend, or Turn The Lights Out from their second release, For The Masses, it’s the same thunderous, repetitive, dirty beat driving on, layered with effects that sound like they’ve come straight from a kid’s toy keyboard.

“Does anyone play on Fifa?”, asks Smith, “This one features on there,” before the band smash into Bliss Out – perhaps the only song to offer any kind of melody and structure to proceedings. But then it’s straight back to business as usual with As One. Smith continues to rally the troops; “This one’s gonna cause destruction” as the band kick full on into Rebirth. Destruction inevitably follows.

More new songs are aired, including The Vortex – with lyrics delivered more as a rap, before Smith says to the crowd. “We did some of our first ever gigs in Camden, so it’s appropriate that we should go back to the old school.” Get Smashed Gate Crashed swiftly begins. The first song Hadouken! ever wrote, That Boy That Girl, makes a star appearance of course, as well as Liquid Lives from their debut, Music For An Accelerated Culture. As with many of the songs tonight, they are enhanced with impressive production as laser beams dance and strike around the venue.

The relationship Hadouken! have with their fans is clearly a special one. Though the army is smaller in number nowadays, as far as they are concerned, the band have delivered tonight and they responded with relentless energy, creating a frantic atmosphere from start to finish. They stagger out into Camden High Street clutching their prized merch with battered and bruised limbs, faces covered in sweat, the walls dripping wet and the floor still vibrating. Whatever happened in here tonight, the fans absolutely loved it, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about.


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More on Hadouken!
Hadouken! @ Electric Ballroom, London
Hadouken! – For The Masses
Hadouken! @ Academy, Liverpool