Native Dancer @ Rich Mix London, 18/05/16

by AdamTait
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on 24 May 2016 in Live
Rating 7/10

A teacher once imparted this shiny nugget of knowledge to me: complexities might make something more impressive, but they also it more likely to go wrong. Most buskers don't experience technical difficulties.

But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the effort, right?

And though it didn't come off, the audience at Rich Mix were nothing but appreciative for Native Dancer's attempt at a live audio-visual collaboration with the Light Surgeons.

After a delayed start thanks to a fire alarm, the opening phases of the show were indeed very impressive, the drifting vocal opener easing the crowd in while intricate visuals danced across the the screen backing the band.

The marriage of image and music was hard to let pass by. Most of us have that one mate who bought a projector to fiddle with and now use to watch Breaking Bad against their living room wall. But even by professional standards Light Surgeons' work was strikingly considered and executed was deft technical nuance, clearly crafted with careful study and consideration of the music.

While they worked that is. The set had barely got going before the stage was painted in fizzling grey static, images flickering in and out of actions and annoyed looks passing between a few band members.

Nevertheless, it was Native Dancer the audience had come to see, and the band didn't disappoint in the slightest. Their brand of imaginatively fused soul, jazz and hip-hop is hard not to be caught up in, enveloping the audience with double-time lounge music while singer Frida Touray.

Their ferocious musicianship is enthralling in its own right. But rather than let their technical ability become the awkward centrepiece of their music, they use it to forge mesmeric and engaging compositions that don't ask too much of the audience but give a whole lot back.

And that's what the show should be remembered for. Unfortunately,though, it's more likely to stick in people's heads as something that was almost overwhelmingly brilliant, but scuppered by technical gremlins. While virtually flawless musically, Native Dancer's performance aims for something beyond that. Something immersive and surprising and rewarding, and in the process something with a high chance of technical mishaps.

That doesn't mean we don't appreciate the effort, though. And when music of this caliber is eventually accompanied by a visual production worthy of it, what a spectacle it'll be.

Native Dancer are trying to do some very impressive things, and that takes time. It's apparent from the very start that it'll be worth giving them as long as they need to get it right.


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