"Jordan Rakei's vocals are audible caramel."
The barefoot Imraan Paleker aka Street Rat steps onto the stage solo. Equipped with guitar, mic and an array of pedals that lay at his feet, he treats early attendees to some sweet soul tunes. The lack of chatter in the room indicates he's grabbed the attention of most, even more so when he begins beatboxing. Looping guitar melodies and punchy bass-heavy rhythms, he escalates to a loud climax by drawing the raucous whirl of sounds to a close with a quick little guitar shred before bringing it back down to a mellow mood with some more vocals to showcase his smooth tone.
Shades of green beam out onto the faces of the audience from the animated visuals behind Sampology as he provides electro grooves while punters pleasurably pass the time. However, it's clearly a weeknight vibe and you can feel it. No doubt, if this set was going off on a Friday or Saturday, everyone would be getting leaps and bounds looser in comparison to what's going down right now. Most are happy to just find a seat and sip their beer, enjoying the music by staring at the amazing visual accompaniment in the background. Images of Nina Simone, piano keys, animated apples, pears and oranges fade on and off the screen pulsating to the beat of the tracks. The synths are dense and completely envelop the room in sound and after encouraging punters to "feel free to dance!" plenty more take his advice, step away from the bar and back onto the floor.
We're totally in from the first note of Midnight Mischief, and Jordan Rakei's vocals are audible caramel. His voice slides effortlessly over the constantly changing tempo, drenching each track with ad-libbing and runs so sweet they soothe the soul. Weaselling his way through the back of the crowd we spot Remi, making his way towards the stage and so we know Snitch is up next. As per usual, he kills it. What more can we say? A lush track, a tight verse from Remi showcasing his great flow and, before we know it, he's back in the audience. Then it's straight into Add The Bassline.
Rakei's got such an unassuming stage presence and is visually so calm, collected and in total control of each and every note. The syncopation is off the chain - the offbeat stressed so strongly on the drums and accompanied by the flurry of other instruments, each off on their own harmonious tangent and deliciously complementary. Yellow and blue lighting floats around the stage and catches the humid haze that stays stagnant above the crowd. It's real sweaty in here, but for now nobody cares as the watery warbling synths serve as an audible cooler.
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"If I could have some quiet for a second," Rakei says before recording a loop for his next track. Waving the mic around his mouth, he creates a chorale echo that fills the room before bellowing synths are added to pull it all together. Stripping it back and kicking this one off alone, with just the keys as accompaniment, the band slowly comes in with a drum break that rockets off into a double-time jam. For the first time of the night Rakei steps away from his keys and takes centre stage for Still. A few moments later and here comes the obligatory, "One more song! One more song!" chant and, of course, Rakei and his band step back on stage within seconds. Winding up with some call and response for Tawo, they then finish with Talk To Me, which features an outro so super-tasty that we wish it didn't have to end.