The Wanderer returns, and it’s not what anyone was expecting. Then again, such is the mystique surrounding [a]Romanthony[/a], New Jersey’s media-shy maverick producer of consistently astonishing house music, that the 30-something musician could have done virtually anything and we’d have been surprised regardless. Certainly his presence in London is a rare event- a fact confirmed by the fleeting appearance of [a]Daft Punk[/a] and their entourage in the audience (they flew in, and then out again, especially; Romanthony guests on their new album) and the crowd’s rapturous reception.
Still, 25 minutes and four songs later and it’s all over, the crowd has thinned considerably and those remaining can’t quite believe that this was the [a]Romanthony[/a] they’d heard so much about. As far away as possible from the dense, colourful electronic confusion of his imminent ‘R Hide In Plain Site’ album for Glasgow Underground, what we get is [a]Romanthony[/a], confidence personified in black leather and sunglasses, a drummer and a keyboard player: it’s house music live, stripped down, simple and, on occasion, almost too soulful.
Thus with St Valentine’s Day only two days away, the velvet-smooth shimmies ‘Ministry Of Love’ and ‘Can U Feel The Love’ are dedicated to all the lovers out there, and [a]Romanthony[/a] is seemingly possessed not by the spirit of Prince – with whom so many comparisons are (accurately) drawn- but of Luther Vandross. Love and the spreading of its message are very much part of his plan 2Nite, though by the time he swaggers onto the final stop-start funk judder of ‘Bring U Up’ (think Prince having an epileptic fit, only better), the super-slick nature of his set has turned what was earlier a sweat-drenched deep house room into something approaching the vibe usually found in a wine bar.
Don’t be surprised, though. [a]Romanthony[/a] has always confounded expectations. He isn’t about to stop now.