The past, present and future of drum n’ bass sends Club Gretchen into hyperspace

Roni Size

An incredible night of light and sound was provided by the king of the genre playing from within a hexagonal box, projected upon by a vibrant cornucopia of 3D squiggles and shapes.

On the first date of his European tour – ending in Amsterdam on March 11th – Roni Size was visibly exulted as he dropped remastered classics from his 1998 Mercury Music Prize album New Forms, as well as some banging new tracks to bring us into 2018.

he did come out to say hello at the end as if to show us he’s real

The warm-up DJ had the crowd jumping in expectation before the man came on to a countdown clock, appearing like a phantom from future past behind a translucent screen with his name emblazoned, starting the controls as if lifting us off into outer space.

The wild 3D projection had the effect of containing him inside a ‘lightbox’, and for me, this felt a little odd. I wanted to see him in front of me – keeping him in a box detracted from his effect. Saying that he did come out to say hello at the end as if to show us he’s real.

although he still plays week in week out, he seems to be intensely excited about what he’s doing right now

This is a 30th anniversary milestone year for Size, and although he still plays week in week out, he seems to be intensely excited about what he’s doing right now. The name of his 1998 album, and the tour itself – New Forms – cleverly invokes continuous reinvention.

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Taking us through the album with classic tracks like ‘Brown Paper Bag’, ‘Heroes’ and title track ‘New Forms’; re-edited in 2008 for New Forms 2, it was then re-released last year, with the addition of remix material. The jury’s out as to whether the material should continue to be updated or left alone, but hearing it live with such impressive visuals was a unique experience.’

He also dipped into a couple of classics of the genre, and with a shout out to Bristol, dropped a brilliant d&b reworking of the Massive Attack classic – ‘Unfinished Symphony’.

Size played his set like his life depended on it

Size played his set like his life depended on it and probably with almost as much enthusiasm as his first gig. He alluded to the future more than once and appeared like a man with a lot more music and creativity in him. His symphony, I imagine, is unlikely to finish anytime soon.

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