Thursday 13th November
Arts Club, Liverpool
Every dreadlocked person within a five mile radius of The East Village Arts Club is queuing up to see Beardyman. There’s an exciting buzz in the air; they’re about to see the King of Improv Drum and Bass. Watching Beardyman is like watching a wizard at work. He can pull beats and samples out of his musical hat like nobody’s business. This is what the crowd has come to see; The Master at work.
After Beardyman’s Brian Blessed lookalike tour manager has set the stage for him and ensured that all of his five computers are set up, the lights dim. A whoop ripples through the crowd and the Man Himself enters the stage. Cheeky, comfortable and as hyped up as a squirrel on a can of Monster, Beardyman begins. With a professional sweep of his DJing hand he compliments Liverpool, insults his hometown London and drops his first beat.
The frequenters of drum and bass nights take to it immediately. Their bodies sway disjointedly and their heads bob enthusiastically. There’s ringing in their ears and a pounding bass in their chest - they couldn’t be happier. Beardyman is deft at getting his crowd going. He switches between mad impressions, humour and pop culture references quicker than a Tarantino movie and his crowd eat it up. The room is quickly in a frenzy. Beardyman’s beat is felt in your bones. Your feet dance and you aren’t aware of it. It’s musical voodoo.
Beardyman has an ‘album per hour’ philosophy that sees him create everything from scratch in front of your eyes. It’s mind melting to watch, if not entirely exhausting. This mercurial beat seizure is interspersed with references as wide ranging as the Jennifer Lawrence photo leak to the new Hunger Games film to David Attenborough’s latest TV endeavours. It’s music for the Twitter generation; everything has a finite shelf life and if you get bored you can hit refresh.
Indeed, this is exactly what Beardyman does. He’ll start to create something new, not like where it’s going, and drop it half way through. The crowd will react with a displeased, if not wholly loving, why-did-you-stop sound and then he’ll win them back over by building something new. It’s musical Lego; if you don’t like it then smash it down and start again. It’s an unusual thing to get used to. You just start to get to know where he’s taking you and then he’ll change his mind. You entered the song in a carnival and now you’re in a grimy, London basement flat. It’s a musical conniption; let go and let the music seize you.
Listen to Beardyman with your closest friends, or at least a responsible adult who can return your mind to you after the gig, and lose yourself for a bit. Dance your ass off and forget why you were so mad before you went in. It’s what I did, let the bass take you.
Words by Ruth Hartnoll
Image couresty of Beardyman