Friday, 12 March 2010

Now Wave presents: Four Tet @ Club Academy, Thursday 11th March, 2010

Now Wave have made a habit of booking hotly tipped independent music of late, and none more so than a constant forward-thinker of modern electronica, Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet. What makes this show stand out from the start, however, is the quality of warm-up acts.

London duo Rocketnumbernine meander between Nathan Fake’s ambient side and a half-intensity Fuck Buttons, while offering the only acoustic performer of the night in drummer Tom Page, who adds a little extra weight to their walls of sound.

Next on, and looking out onto an already sizeable gathering, Pantha Du Prince eases into his set with echoing chimes that give way to processed beats. As the mixture of minimal chirpiness and increasingly driving bass foundations progress to floor-vibrating head-nodders, the hooded laptop operator leaves the stage oscillating in his wake.

The night belongs to Four Tet, though. To use a visual metaphor, his predecessors on the night only muster block colour when compared with Hebden’s multicolour mixes. ‘Angel Echoes’, the opener on latest album There Is Love In You, sets the scene as one for showcasing the new material. But putting it like that is too two dimensional and routine to describe the Four Tet experience. Hebden leads into ‘Sing’ with the help of what appears to be ambient pioneer Brian Eno’s ‘Bloom’ app on his iPod touch in an example of the constant tendency to shift live versions of his recorded tunes down twitchy, glitchy tangents. Every nuance is subject to change; the representation is far from routine.

After the set weaves through ‘Circling’, ‘Love Cry’ and ‘Plastic People’, the biggest hand-raiser of the night is introduced by way of a ribcage rattler of a pounding pulse. When this evolves into old favourite ‘As Serious As Your Life’ there’s a frenzy of movement; it’s hard to resist such rhythm.

Behind Kieran Hebden’s appreciative grin beaming towards the front row’s clamouring fanaticism is a man in his element. Indeed, his enjoyment shows through as those who remain in hope of a post-curfew encore are rewarded with a personal touch as he returns to shake hands with some who were undoubtedly blown away by what they witnessed.

Words: Ian Pennington
Pictures: Paul Green

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