Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Mix Up, the Rhythm Factory, 22nd April 2010, reviewed by CP James

One of those instant drawbacks of freelance journalism is that the events you must cover are very often not the ones you wish to write about. On the morning of the 22nd I phoned round all my tame editors at the capital’s newspaper offices, and asked what, if anything, I could do for them – I’d a few bills to pay, and not much by way of spondulicks coming in. The first, a very old friend, said ‘Please, nothing about the election!’ Those prime ministerial TV debates, and the surprising Clegg phenomenon, had got practically every hack in Christendom on the hustings circus, telling us everything from the precise sprinkling of sugar on Mr Cameron’s breakfast grapefruit to the Machiavellian truth underpinning Lord Mandelson’s latest public utterance. I would have to say everyone else I phoned took much the same view, until someone – not unconnected with The Guardian – suggested I take a little trip to the Rhythm Factory, a music venue in Whitechapel, and report on the evening’s events there, where it was rumoured Pete Doherty would be putting in a surprise appearance.

Well, surprisingly, Pete Doherty didn’t (put in a surprise appearance). Instead we had the Mix Up, a showing of up-and-coming talent on the music scene, in a venue space suitably blacked, but radiant with spots and strobes, and a procession of latter-day jongleurs strutting their stuff on stage. These ranged from Sam Ward, with his CD launch, ‘alternative, ambient, guitar and bass’; Andy Mathew, a reggae and soul singer; guest act and punk knockabout Corporal Machine and the Bombers; the smooth sophistication of Salary Man, in a tight rock-jazz-soul suit; and finally to J-Soul, a Dilla-inspired beat-maker, with soulful electro beats from his debut EP Electric Formulas, who at the night’s end had a decibel count halfway to the stars, and a clutch of devotees hogging the dance floor.

It was as I said to one of my editors on the morning of the 23rd: ‘Yeah – much, much better than the election…’

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