Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Black Seeds @ Cargo, London

26 June 2008

A night underneath the railway arches at Cargo usually equates to a night of musical discovery – still more when the label involved is Berlin’s Sonar Kollektiv establishment.

This year they’ve enjoyed several Broad Casting nights in celebration of a radio-influenced compilation series overseen by Jazzanova, with artists such as Little Dragon and Jimi Tenor already appearing.

The third Broad Casting release maintains the high standards already set by Jazzanova and Dirk Rumpff, mixed on this occasion by Brum’s Karen P. She it was that curated the evening, each act interspersed by short fifteen minute sets of suddenly intense soul or broken beat, but with a smile as infectiously wide as the DJs.

For those football lovers it was perfectly planned – as Spain’s Euro 2008 victory over Russia finished on the patio, Adi Dick came onto the stage with his guitar. But what at first glance looked like an ordinary singer-songwriter affair grew into something much bigger with the aid of his sampler, so that the New Zealander’s fifteen minute set was essentially one track, growing from a soft guitar pulse to a full-on vocal ensemble with clicks and light riffing.

Complementing Dick’s quiet innovations was St. Louis rapper Black Spade. And though there were numerous technical problems with his set the basic premise of his approach came through, a concoction of insightful rap lyrics, jazzy hip hop backing tracks and a dash of soul, delivered through a surprising falsetto. It was when these were harnessed over bumpy bass drum beats that he was at his most effective, though the hitches manifested in a troublesome CD player quelled his flow and interaction with the audience.

The Black Seeds were next, and turned Black Spade’s ray of sunshine into a full-on glow. This was due partly to their on-stage manner, with vocalist Barnaby Weir raising his beer with a cheers’ to all present, but was mainly down the performance itself. With punchy horns and rhythm aplenty, this was an ensemble that portrayed sheer enjoyment in their music making. Rhythms veered between dub, ska and funk, the song-based material was uplifting, but their best moments came on their riotous ska excursions, one largely instrumental and powered by bassist Tim Jaray..

The band were naturally confident and relaxed, even if it was difficult to see all of them in the half-light, with an eight-piece crammed on to Cargo’s stage. But good vibes radiated, and are sure to go hand in glove with the sunny weather should visitors to Lovebox be lucky this year.

It was left to Si Begg to sign off an evening of diversity and keen interest, with plenty to investigate online – not least at the Red Bull Music Academy Radio, where the night is to be available on demand.

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The Black Seeds @ Cargo, London