It's a night where the [B]Jaxx[/B] fingers rarely slip off the pulse, a series of peaking moments where they drip precisely enough cheese into the underground to produce pop genius...
Yo-yo-yo-yo! Tonight we’re gonna party like we’re zooming round Brixton in a ragga minicab with Armand Van Helden, a teenage [a]Suggs[/a] from [a]Madness[/a] and a Brazilian limbo dancer.
That’s the theory around the work of nutty-faux-Latino-garage superstar DJs Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe. Their summer collection ‘Remedy’ was the backpacker dance album of the year, a record which steamrollered white trance into the concrete with its pan-ethnic sun-seeking summation of weekender UK youth.
The Academy, however, is no basement. Nor is it Taco Joe‘s south London Mex restaurant where the pair first played out. It’s a challenge then, but by 11pm the mass hypnotic effect of the Jaxx‘s imminent arrival has convinced most of the locals that they’re in Rio de Manchester.
An ad-man’s orgasm of racially- mixed ravenous-for-it under-25s, the audience rise up before the first four-to-the-floor shudder and don’t touch down at all. It matters little that Felix and Simon stand behind the onstage mix desk sliding faders with about as much animation as air-traffic controllers. The pivoting bassline of ‘I Beg U’ converts the chest cavity walls of 2,000 tequila-minded kids into busted speaker cones, and as horny porno samples layer over jazz piano loops, the genius call-and-response of the Jaxx sound-pounding system teases the hall into a human foam.
Then just as you’re thinking it’s going to be a low-frequency thing, the real carnival begins and Brazilian micro-Amazon Didi steps out in feather-plumed headdress and bikini to heighten the fiesta mood. Felix and Simon nod harder (more than Orbital, less than The Chemical Brothers). Shirtless percussion man George flexes his muscles. And as if to signal how pleasingly twisted things are in the jazz neighbourhood, an outbreak of screaming greets the surreal vocoder stompathon houser, ‘Yo-Yo’.
It’s a night where the Jaxx fingers rarely slip off the pulse, a series of peaking moments where they drip precisely enough cheese into the underground to produce pop genius. Take ‘Red Alert’, with its wrong-footing sample from The Jam, it hijacks Gwen Guthrie funk disco-isms but sprays it in New York sheen and hands the vocals over to female vox Blue for a lesson in soul for the handbag performers.
Gentler textures and comedown poetry in ‘Always Be There’ offer brief respite from the Friday night voodoo mood, but all Manumission breaks loose when Simon steps forth with his acoustic guitar, signalling the big sunbed-meets-house snob moment of ‘Rendez-Vu’, complete with flamenco dancer and a mid-song strumming breakdown which is indisputably one of the great pre-millennial moments.
By now, steam is rising off the shedfloor, and the Jaxx roll right over thought, doing their 2-Tone thing and their acid collages, bringing on MC Slarta for the banging ragga of ‘Jump N’ Shout’ and assembling their whole crew of whoopers, whistlers and dancers for a body-pummelling, everything-mashing ‘Bingo Bango’ ending.
It takes blinding intuition to simultaneously please the hedonists, connoisseurs, fools and politicos and morph into that rare thing, a mass turn worthy of big respect. Now Basement Jaxx have proved they can be that live too, even with a Spanish rose in their teeth. The rule book’s been rephrased, and read through a vocoder.