It would be safe to say that Basement Jaxx are a band that everyone’s heard of, even if you don’t know their band name. Felix and Simon have created some of the biggest hits of the noughties – Where’s Your Head At?, Red Alert, Take Me Back To Your House, to name but a few – and their sound is instantly recognisable. I recently saw them at the Newcastle O2 and I have to admit that I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought we would see Felix and Simon DJing their way through their greatest hits with various vocals played through the speakers. How wrong I was. Their set ended up being perhaps the best live gig I’ve ever been too, but I’ll come to why in a moment.
I want to start by commenting upon their support act Clean Bandit. I’d never heard of them beforehand, but now they’re a band that I am going to be watching closely. Their sound comprises of deep house, pop and classical orchestral music (a weird combination, I know, but it seriously WORKS) and they have a combined age of around 30 (seriously, how old are these guys?! I’m only 20 but watching what they’ve already achieved made me feel very old indeed) but they shouldn’t be underestimated. Their set was full of energy and you could tell that the guys on stage – brothers Jack and Luke, Grace and hottie Milan Neil – had fun. Their fun seeped into the audience and I enjoyed their clash of sounds, the violin and cello solos and their fresh, vibrant vocals. Mozart’s House was amazing live and I’ve had it on repeat since.
The main event came next and we were greeted to a multitude of costumes apt for a Gaga concert – Simon was decked out in a space-design Asian poncho (kinda… fashion isn’t my forte) and Felix wore a rainbow long shirt. A trumpet player was dressed as a crow (complete with a bird headpiece) and another member of the band came as an Indian, headdress and all. They began, and this was where I thought the speakers would come in handy. But no.
They were joined by no less than seven performers on stage for various songs. Vula Malinga and Sharlene Hector performed Good Luck, Do Your Thing and Hush Boy and their vocals were on top form. Their energy was phenomenal, dancing whilst decorated as rainbows and clouds and their soul voices perfectly complemented the hectic house and dance music DJed from Felix and the other members of the band. Simon played guitar along with them and gave us a few amazing solos.
Next came Emma Lee and Baby Chay for Back 2 The Wild, a song from their new album due next spring and their amateur dancing was perfect for the crazy song. I loved it way back in April when I first heard it and their performance only made me love it even more. We were presented with another new song What A Difference Your Love Makes with the help of Shakka, a vibrant and compelling song which I think is their best song in years. It’s crazy though – none of their new songs have charted or done much at all really but the vast majority of the audience sang along with them. Basement Jaxx sure do have a dedicated fanbase. These two performances have made me VERY excited for their upcoming seventh album.
Other old songs included a fantastic mash-up of Rendez-Vu and Jus 1 Kiss along with Romeo and Raindrops, stunningly performed by Sharlene, now wearing a star headdress. Her voice was amazing during this song. Kele Le Roc and Rhona Humphrey joined them on stage later, with the former giving performances full of sass and the latter greeting us with fantastic dance moves and a whole lotta attitude! She even gave me the eyes as she did the splits. I think she fancied me.
Throughout the various costume changes Felix, Simon and the rest of the band gave us musical breakdowns, showcasing their fantastic mixing ability with a multitude of dance, house and dubstep tunes which sampled Breach’s Jack and Queen’s I Want It All, whilst blinding us with their assault of flashing lights. Felix left his podium for the final performance of the night – Where’s Your Head At? – and the whole room was singing and dancing along. This was what a lot of them had waited for. Felix’s voice was surprisingly good live and he commanded the entire stage for that one performance. Bravo sir, I salute you!
And that was it.
But the audience demanded one more song and Basement Jaxx consented, giving us not one but four songs as an encore! The first of them was Power 2 The People, a previously unheard song from their upcoming album and Felix and Vula had the audience chanting the chorus (apparently we’re going to be sampled on the new album, but I highly doubt that’ll happen) and then we all sang Happy Birthday to Simon as gorillas joined them on stage and threw banana’s into the crowd. What a surreal moment that was. Their encore concluded with new cut Mermaids of Salinas (in which EVERYONE sang along to “I’m in the hotbox, la-la-la-lala”) and Bingo Bango another of their old tracks.
But what a night it was. It’s been fourteen years since their debut album but Basement Jaxx still have it. Their set was fun and compellingly fresh for a band that have been around as long as they have and it’s clear that they still have a lot more to give before they call it a day.
Their currently untitled seventh album is due in the spring. Listen closely, you may just be able to hear me screaming along on Power 2 The People – I was front row after all.