Rudimental, Electric Brixton, London – review

Drum and bass purists, those for whom any drop in tempo below 160 beats per minute is heresy, were thin on the ground at Rudimental’s show. The Hackney foursome mix drum and bass with huge soul and pop choruses: an affront to the purists, but very flavoursome for the youthful High Street crowd crammed into the Electric Brixton, jumping up and down to pell-mell breakbeats and singing along to the choruses.

The quartet – Piers Agget, Amir Amor, Kesi Dryden and DJ Locksmith – announced themselves last year with the summer smash “Feel the Love”. Another number one single followed, “Waiting All Night”. Now comes their debut album Home, which looks set to top the UK charts this week. Hence the celebratory mood tonight, with jets of beer arcing around the venue like champagne anointing a boat. The good ship Rudimental is on its way.

On stage they were joined by a drummer, trumpeter and guest singers. DJ Locksmith played the role of hype man, whipping up the audience in the unabashed manner of a holiday rep in Ibiza. (“Are you ready to go mental with us?” More jets of beer, wild cheers etc.) But no single individual dominated the songs. A link to the tradition of the reggae sound system was evoked by “Solo”, in which trumpeter Mark Crown’s jazzy ska rhythms were punctuated by explosive bursts of drum and bass.

The singing was mainly shared between two differing types of soul/R&B singer, husky voiced Ella Eyre and the breathier Sinead Hartnett. Up-and-coming producer MNEK, a Rudimental associate, added his smooth vocals to the pulsing house track “Spoons” while US rap newcomer Angel Haze reprised her guest spot on “Hell Could Freeze”. Her characteristically intense rap about a failed relationship couldn’t help jarring with the rest of the set – a mismatch highlighted by DJ Locksmith’s cheery cry of “Have we got any disco lovers in the house?” as Haze finished her contribution.

Rudimental excel at upbeat, not angst-ridden. Their gift for synthesis was summed up by the way the 1990s UK garage revivalism of “Baby” segued into the classic soul drama of “Home”. Meanwhile their eye for new talent, an A&R person’s dream, saw Yorkshire tyro John Newman deliver a show-stealing spot on “Feel the Love”, singing an electric retro-soul lead vocal over a joyous drum and bass clatter. The purists are missing out.

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