Gig review and Photos: Mos Def @ Shepherds Bush Empire, London

25 11 2007

A week is a long time to look forward to a gig in London, most times one doesn’t even have enough time to recover from the previous weekend before the end of the week is once again crashing towards you and everyone is hurriedly trying to organise what to do. Needless to say I was looking forward to Mos Def and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. As i ranted last week, i was expecting some kind of new spectacular fusion of a live brass band playing all of Mos Def’s favourite numbers – ushering in an era of  ‘live’ hip-hop which is well overdue.

Long story short; i expected wrong…

With the doors set to open at 7pm we arrived (via Dixie chicken) at the massive Shepherds Bush empire around 9pm. BBC 1xtras Benji B had just taken the stage and was rolling out a decent hip-hop set (not too obscure, not too poppy and just the right amount of classics). By 10:30 the crowd were getting restless as the venue was totally packed on all three floors.

With much fuss and to great applause the mighty Mos Def took the stage supported by a set of two Dj’s. Peering down from the gods on the 3rd floor there was an air of excited anticipation – we have all seen the Scratch Perverts before and were hoping that there might be some showy turntablism, combo-scratching (like Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow on their Brainfreeze tour) and straight out battling. However the role which the Dj’s were to eventually play proved confusing and even frustrating at times – they didn’t seem to perform as a duo at all, instead taking turns at pressing play on the CDJ whilst throwing in the odd scratch or two – but for the most part the subtlety was lost in the middle of the mix.

As for the main focus – Mos launched into a number of new numbers from his forthcoming album (which we were reminded of many times throughout the night). I can’t say that the sound was perfect where i was, so recognition of tracks sometimes only kicked in for me half way through the song. I must say though -Mos Def is a great performer – in terms of both singing and rapping; over the next hour and a bit he delivered a number of new tunes and classics to an amped up crowd – these included ‘Hip-hop’, re-definition, Sex Love & Money and an extended version of arguably his most popular tune – Ms Fat Booty. As mentioned above Mos dropped a number of new numbers also, of note was one with Madlib on production (which sounded like a beat taken from his most recent instrumental compilation Vols 3-4 Beat Konducta in India).

After a long and energetic set Mos seemed to be getting the hard word from his manager to finish up (at least the 3rd floor was good for seeing something!). But wait! what about the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble? I stared at the five microphones lined up at the side of the stage waiting for Hypnotic to jump on and take over from the DJ’s at any moment.. unfortunately this was not the case as it turns out they were on first (8pm?) and had finished by the time we arrived.. how annoying. Not to worry though as they are playing more dates in London in the next few weeks.. i will see them yet!

To summarize the night- good venue, good tunes, stunning performance by Mos – let down by average DJ performance and failure to meet expectations on the Hypnotic front. I shall think twice before arriving late to a gig in the future…

Here are a few photos ..
Mos on Stage

Mos under the spots…


Due to the sell-out Shepherds Bush gig another Mos Def show was (hastily) organised for Sunday 25th with DJ Vadim and Yarah Bravo in support- i heard a few people talking about it on the tube and they sounded like they had a good time.. hopefully there is a review i can link to somewhere about it..

Another photo another night




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