Live Review: Jodie Abacus – Manchester

Jodie Abacus

Deaf Institute, Manchester, 27th September 2016

Words: Gary Lambert

Photos: Lucy Lamb

jodie-abacus-lucy-lamb-25-09-16-1199Support for Jodie Abacus came from Age of L.U.N.A. (Live Under No Authority) who are a curious up-and-coming British hip hop act. As the eyes of the music world after a decade of Grime are now looking towards that as the future, Age of L.U.N.A. are without doubt focusing on the past for their inspiration. With a female singer, two male rappers and a seventeen year old “baby faced assassin” producing the beats for them their performance is heavily influenced by the nicer side of the mid-nineties which created some of the finest pieces of hip hop as pop music by artists who tend to be less revered such as Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince and The Fugees. This was openly referenced in a medley of covers which included Summertime, Ready or Not and Doo Wop (That Thing) which the band admitted inspired their work and set them high targets to reach. Can they reach those targets? From one perspective I would say that the sound of the rapping is heavily dated as the voices of Butch Arkas and Kyote Noir do not carry the smoothness of say Kanye, nor the pace, power and aggression of Skepta, Eminem or even The Beastie Boys. It might seem to be a hefty comparison to put them alongside some of the greats, but the style of rap they are working with is an attempt to sound like those. Yet the vocal of Daniella Thomas was incredibly beautiful and used very well in conjunction with the backing tracks laid down by NK-OK. Maybe Age of L.U.N.A. stand a very good chance of moving forward as long as they don’t treat today as the finished product. There are many things right in their sound.

 

Now for the majority of the set of Ekkah, I did not have a clue what the band were trying to do. For me it was not working as anything more than a four-piece of obviously talented musicians playing pop music that sounded a bit like Madonna would if she was in a proper band. Then like a punch to the gut they played their last song Home Alone and everything made sense. It felt almost academic how the entire set fell into place upon hearing that one song. It was not just the pure pop lifts or the coordination between Rebecca Wilson and Rebekah Pennington, but it was the passion that came from their vocals. They might not have been shouting them out, but they didn’t need to. It was rousing, full of belief and straight up wonderful. I didn’t know if I was going to dance or punch the air. Ekkah are a victorious pop band with soul and so much of an ear for a tune that it knocked me off guard after the hip hop prior to them.

 

jodie-abacus-lucy-lamb-25-09-16-1506Now soul comes in abundance from the headliner of this tour, Jodie Abacus. His set was frankly fantastic, full of big future hits. Stating that his aim was to get the audience to forget it was Sunday night and party like it was 1999, well I was halfway through Monday before I realised that it wasn’t Sunday night. Jodie Abacus is going to be a star. I have not felt like this over an act since at this same venue I saw Nathaniel Rateliffe and The Night Sweats, also on a Sunday night. You can have all the tunes in the world, but if a band is not lead by the right person it is pointless as a live act. Jodie Abacus is the kind of guy that you cannot take your eyes off. He makes you wish he was your friend. He makes you dance – people were actually dancing at the gig not just moving, but boyfriend and girlfriend throwing shapes together dancing. He makes you feel for him when he sings “I’ll Be That Friend” about a time at his lowest ebb where he said he realised he needed to give himself a hug. It was a fantastic set which reminded me of Marvin Gaye, Hall and Oates, Wilson Pickett and James Brown amongst others. I even bought the EP at the end of the night as there are times when you need to have a physical memory of the night.

 

jodie-abacus-lucy-lamb-25-09-16-1512Jodie Abacus is not just about the good times either. As he introduced his track, Keep Your Head Down, he spoke of the hard times the band have gone through, but how that particular song was inspired by the thought of what it must be like to be a refugee, leaving your war torn home to turn up in a country where the grass isn’t necessarily greener as some people don’t want you there. It was this song more than anything that made me feel Jodie is destined for great things. If you can make people do some sexy dancing to a subject so deep whilst being so obvious what you have written the song about, it is a sign of real talent. I expect to see Jodie Abacus on the red button in June as there is a very big festival that his sound is made for. Just like Sunday nights are made for Jodie Abacus.

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