Gig review: Basement Jaxx at O2 Academy Leeds

Basement Jaxx
Basement Jaxx
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We may have been guilty of taking Basement Jaxx for granted. Their breakthrough Remedy album was released nearly 15 years ago and their pulsating pop has been almost ubiquitous ever since.

Their music has accompanied Coca-Cola commercials and film soundtracks. They have toured with Robbie Williams, headlined Glastonbury, and shared collaborative efforts with everyone from Yoko Ono to Kylie. So what’s left for chart topping DJs Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton, and why should they even care?

Cambridge electro band Clean Bandit represent both the support and the competition. Young, up and coming, sassy and soulful, they play a 90s techno with street smarts and classical accompaniment. Both female leads attempt to out-Whitney each other, and you would happily put substantial amounts of money on them appearing at something like Radio 1’s Big Weekend next year. The live violin and cello paint an odd picture, but when it comes to off-the-wall pants-round-your-head craziness, nothing can quite prepare you for the Basement Jaxx show.

One thing’s for certain, the boys have lost none of their intent. Their invigorating concerts still guarantee the best party atmosphere and percussive clout this side of a Rio carnival, with rainbow leotards, glow in the dark dancers and, towards the end, two people in gorilla suits. Ratcliffe is on guitar duties, so Buxton commands the decks like a neurotic conductor. He only once emerges from the distance to stomp out a threatening Where’s Your Head At. For the most part, they let a troop of multifaceted performers steal the show.

Vocalists Sharlene Hector and Vula Malinga blast out trailblazing hits like Good Luck, Oh My Gosh and Romeo with full-bodied zeal. These songs are timeless; only Vula’s offhand protests belie their age. “I’m too old for this,” she says whilst attempting to twerk. Add to the mix a contemporary dancer, two Chinese sisters, the body popping moves of Rhonda Humphrey and the sultry swagger of London-born Shakka.

Shakka has received individual acclaim for his acapella and beatboxing skills, not to mention a great solo record. He steals Jump N’ Shout and new single What a Difference Your Love Makes and, given time, one might expect Shakka to fully emerge from the Jaxx’s shadow. But for now the family is stronger than ever. Most importantly, they have lost none of their irreverence. Long may it continue.

Gig date: November 28

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