South London homecoming heroes' hedonism leaves crowd aching for more
Couldn’t get to Basement Jaxx’s ‘secret’ club monthlies? Well, no matter, because the real ‘Rooty’ experience is right here, still on the duo’s South London home territory. The venue might be less than intimate, but it doesn’t feel that way; by the time Felix Buxton, Simon Ratcliffe and assorted friends arrive, the floor is a crammed and sweaty tangle of limbs, geared up for some serious Jaxx action.
When Basement Jaxx tentatively debuted their live show in 1999, it was stunning. Now, with their first concert of 2001it seems as if that original set has proliferated. It’s a relentless spectacle that literally explodes onstage – suddenly there’s a dozen male and female carnival dancers in full Rio garb (ie, massive feathered headdresses and little else), gorgeously shaking their thangs to stomping Latin house. And then there’s R&B vocalist Kele Le Roc in shimmery tights, launching into current hit ‘Romeo’ – although, as rapturously-greeted ‘Red Alert’ singer Blue James also discovers – the crowd can happily bellow all the lyrics themselves.
Less familiar numbers from ‘Rooty’ and classics from 1999’s ‘Remedy’ inspire a frothy enthusiasm; there’s none of the posiness that marred ‘secret’ club monthlies and if the new album has been criticized for its poppiness, surely that’s missing the point – Basement Jaxx create supremely accessible club music (take the exuberantly loony ‘Where’s Your Head At’) that provokes an outburst of grooving – including, tonight, in the girls’ toilets.
There’s no between-song banter, although Simon coolly plays guitar on ‘Broken Dreams’ (the show’s only downtempo song) and a triumphant ‘Rendez-Vu’. Songs are interspersed with crafty bootleg interludes, mixing Gary Numan to Missy Elliot, and the Jaxx’s flurry of awesome vocalists, dancers and visuals, command the spotlight. When the whole family congregates for an Academy-trembling encore of ‘Bingo Bango’, it’s like some bizarre wedding reception. It would have
been good to hear more songs from ‘Rooty’ (tracks like ‘Breakaway’ and ‘I Want You’ definitely warrant live renditions), but for over an hour, Basement Jaxx have transported everyone to their own wild world. It’s a multi-coloured rush of body music, leaving you thrilled, breathless, and aching for more.