12 May 1994

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Straight No Chaser present Shape of Things To Come Chapter 2
VenueThe Forum
Date(s)12/05/1994
Supporting actsGiles Peterson, James Lavelle and guests

A follow up concert to The Shape Of Things To Come held 22 May 1993. This event featured DJ Shadow, DJ Krush and James Lavelle DJing along with various live acts.

Straight No Chaser volume 1, issue 27 (1994) features a write up of the event.[1]

The following year, The Shape of Things To Come continued on 16 November 1995[2]. The 1995 lineup included Drum FM, Palmskin Productions, Hot Head and Little Axe.[3]

Review

Solaar power lights the future 'The Shape Of Things To Come' was a one-off event celebrating the sound of young, hip jazz. Jeremy Novick reports on the opening night of the London Jazz Festival. by Jeremy Novick[4]

It was like a rappers convention. Three, maybe four, members of Philadelphia rap collective, The Roots, were strutting around, gesticulating like they'd seen too many Run DMC videos. 'Everybody in the house say wooaahh'. Omar, the velvet-toned crooner, was doing his bit, trying to mix it with the bad boys. French rappeur MC Solaar skulked around, hands in pockets, effortlessly oozing a glowing trail of charisma like a snail in a rock garden.

Behind them, Steve Williamson, despicably cool and grinning as if he just couldn't help it, presided over a band laying down a beat so fat it was obese. As Roots drummer, Ahmir, pounded, Steve Lewinson lassooed bass-lines into the crowd. Amidst the rumble, DJ Krush, Japanese turntable player (that's what he was billed as) was scratching away, possibly on the stage, possibly locked away somewhere else inside his headphones.

More rappers appeared, walking this way, talking that way, passing microphones to each other like relay-runners with batons, their raps

consisting of shouting the name of the next in line. This was generally MC Solaar, possibly because despite a surprise appearance by Bjork, he'd received the biggest cheer of the night, but more probably because everyone just loved shouting out 'Solaar power in the house! Say wooaahh!'.

The programme said saxophonist Williamson was 'on a phuturistic phunk 'n' jazz vibe.' The tickets said it was 'an evening of exclusive collaborations.' The MC introducing the whole thing said 'This is going to be somewhere between madness and ecstasy.'

No one was lying. 'The Shape Of Things To Come' at the Forum in north London, was, as they say (or used to say, maybe), kickin'. Well, at times it was. Six sets featuring 50 odd people flying across the musical boundaries like they weren't there because they weren't. As it should be.

If Williamson provided the most smiles per beat, the musical honours fell to The Latin Section. Led by Snowboy, a faintly ridiculous looking geezer huge and squeezed into an Alexei Sayle suit they were the one band that really cooked. Hit the rhythm, settle in and . . . head down, take no passengers. This was happy music. Some stood around squonking and honking their horns, others were hitting plant pots and shaking things that looked like pickling jars. Orphy Robinson (see feature page 11) bounded on, sporting urban bushman chic and laying into the vibes with a near sexual venom. After the first tune, about half-an-hour's worth of groove, Snowboy announced 'This is going to be our last number,' before adding with his Essex grin 'But that's alright 'cos it lasts about 20 minutes.'

With so much going on, so much on display, there were bound to be disappointments. Siren Jhelisa Anderson was given only one tune to demonstrate her 58 octave vocal range. Bjork, too, was given one tune. Ridiculous, especially considering that she was supported by the wonderfully tactile percussionist Talvin Singh. Given the choice, everybody in the house would have happily swapped a chunk of rap for a bit more of this.

By the time Andrew Missingham's band with Jessica Lauren, Simon Richmond, Annie Whitehead, Jeremy Shaw and singer Ragga trooped on at 1am, the night was ready for some proper playing. It was nice enough, but after the Snowboy's fire and Williamson's exhuberance it seemed a little too cocktaily. Maybe it was just late. Meanwhile, DJ Krush was still merrily scratching away in the corner. Someone should have told him.

Images

References

  1. http://www.straightnochaser.co.jp/backissue/backissue1994.html
  2. https://www.instagram.com/p/aye6QSySKx/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_Ia4tQ2M1E
  4. Novick, Jeremy, 'Solaar power lights the future 'The Shape Of Things To Come' was a one-off event celebrating the sound of young, hip jazz. Jeremy Novick reports on the opening night of the London Jazz Festival', The Guardian, Manchester (UK), 15 May 1994.