UltraLounge, the new live music venue in Selfridges, is tailor-made for unique events. Located, somewhat incongruously, in the basement of the central London department store, it consists of a 360-degree stage and is flanked by screens onto which videos are projected to complement the show. The venue has been opened just a few weeks and has hosted exciting, fresh talent such as south London rap crew 67, Manchester new-wave R&B artist IAMDDB and acoustic singer-songwriter Charlie Cunningham.
Now we see what happens when veteran musicians take to the UltraLounge stage. London trip-hop legend UNKLE, aka James Lavelle, has been producing acclaimed, ambient dance music since the 1990s. He’s performed on stages such as London institution Somerset House – where the visuals were almost as important as the music – and even curated Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre is 2014. It’s no surprise, then, that his UltraLounge show was an extraordinary multi-discipline audio-visual feast. See the video above, in which they deliver a pulsating rendition of ‘Sunrise (Always Comes Around)’ and the haunting ‘In A State’. Ethereal, blue-tinged videos swirl around the producers, depicting the ghostly figure of a woman as she dances amid kaleidoscopic smoke and the outstretched hands of an audience. The performance, a mesmerising display from a masters of his craft (with a new album featuring Primal Scream and Josh Homme on the way), maximised the creative potential of the UltraLounge.
This show, like those of the newer talent mentioned earlier, is part Music Matters, a campaign to raise awareness of the fact that, according to the Music Venue Trust, 40% of London’s grass-roots venues have closed in the past 10 years. 20% of proceeds from the UltraLounge shows will go the Music Venue Trust in a bid to protect live music spaces in which musicians cut their teeth; this will hopefully create the veteran acts of tomorrow.