GIG REVIEW: Gilles Peterson Awards @ KOKO, Camden

If you follow me on twitter, you’ll know I’ve been going on about this gig for a long time and last night it did not disappoint. Gilles Peterson knows how to throw one hell of an awards show. I came in and initially saw United Vibrations giving it their all, with guest rappers. Their song, “No Space No Time” was a real crowd pleaser, a song which just sounded a thousand times better live. It was nice to start off the night, but it wasn’t long before the acts I was really wanted to see turned up. The night was a long affair, full of award giving and celebration, for acts that truly did deserve it. There was a couple of surprises, in the appearance of both Flying Lotus and Special AKA, and DJ sets that were truly sublime from the likes of Scuba, Ramadanman, Lefto & Radio 1′s Nihal. Below I’ve picked out a few highlights of the show, probably the best gig I’ve ever been to.

Starting the night off with a bang was Rocketnumbernine and Four Tet’s collaborative performance, setting the tone for the evening well. A set packed of killer beats and frantic keyboard-humping left the crowd in a danced-out frenzy. Although then unfamiliar with which of their material they played, it was a frantic, exciting mix of music that I really enjoyed, Rocketnumbernine are definitely on the rise and Four Tet’s presence here has only gone to raise the double act’s profile. I thoroughly recommend the songs that you can stream below, “Matthew And Toby” and remix of Luke Abbott’s “Trans Forest Alignment”.
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When James Blake finally stepped onto the stage to perform, the audience, myself included, entered into rapturous applause. Earlier, picking up the award for Best Single, for CMYK, he was later greeted with shouts of “Goldsmiths!” which had Blake smiling before he started playing his six-song set to a packed house. Beginning with the album opener “Unluck”, Blake and his two-man backing band brought the forthcoming album to life, applying it to a live setting magnificently. Despite lacking the layering applied to his vocals on the record, the songs he played, like “To Care (Like You)” still packed as much of a punch with the vocoder’s manipulation. Blake also sung the vocoder-heavy “Lindisfarne” and his upcoming single “Wilhelm’s Scream” to great response, with people hanging off, and singing, his every word. After playing a slither of “Give Me My Month” on the grand piano, Blake announced that “You might know this one,” with a rendition of “Limit To Your Love” which had such intense bass that made everyone in the club shake, whether they consented or not. It was fantastic to hear it in such an environment and speakers that did the sounds Blake creates full justice, even if the incessant chatter of those obviously less passionate for Blake’s work ruined those perfect moments of silence. Blake is only going to get bigger this year, so if you get the chance, catch his outstanding act live.

Watch the “Wilhelm’s Scream” Maida Vale Session below:

Steve “Flying Lotus” Ellison revealed his secret appearance after picking up the awards for Best Album & Best Session from Peterson, picking the former up from recent collaborator Thom Yorke, but it was the host’s assertion that “We might persuade him to play a couple of tracks later” that sent the crowd into a frenzy. When Ellison was revealed from behind the big screen in front of his laptop and equipment people were going even more insane. After telling the crowd not to grass him in to Customs, “I said I wasn’t going to play”, he begun one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. Ellison is the kind of guy who so obviously enjoys what he is doing it’s hard not to join in and smile along with that big grin almost permanently strapped to his face, of course it helps that the music is absolutely off the chain too. Name-checking Thom Yorke, Trish Keenan and J Dilla during the rambunctious set, FlyLo got the crowd going more than any one else, which was very deserving considering how mind-blowing his act actually is. Stream the brilliant track “And The World Laughs With You” from his 2010 album Cosmogramma that features Thom Yorke below.
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Mount Kimbie were handed a tough act to follow with FlyLo’s guest appearance, but they handled themselves incredibly well. Seeing them last year at OFFSET festival in Hainault Forest, I had an idea of what to expect but I was simply not prepared for how outstanding their set would be. As they performed album classics like “Before I Move Off” with aplomb, the crowd was obviously getting even more excited. It was the cohesiveness of the set, full of the beats and their distinct sound that sets them apart from others and has made them loved by so many. Their material undoubtedly sounds better in the live, club-like atmosphere that KOKO provided, with the crowd swaying and dancing more naturally to them than to any other act during the night. Ending the set brilliantly with the track “Maybes” from 2009′s EP of the same name, one of my personal favourites that I was hoping they’d play as it is associated with their time touring with James Blake (see below). And Blake couldn’t resist hopping on to the stage to join in with the vocals. It capped the evening off brilliantly for me.

Watch a 2009 video of Mount Kimbie performing “Maybes” with James Blake below:
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Mount Kimbie – Maybes (James Blake Remix)
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Gilles Peterson’s Awards was a fantastic night of music that I would of kicked myself for missing. Truly, truly outstanding musicians playing back to back with some of the best DJs warming the crowd up made for an unmissable night. If you did miss it, well, just make sure you get yourself down there for next year. I can only assume it will be just as good.

Thanks to Lydia for the picture of James Blake!