Detonate Leeds presents Ram Jam
Friday 30th January
Canal Mills, Leeds
In a world where many producers are happy to be recognised by an online magazine or music blog, David Rodigan has already been recognised for his contributions to music by none other than the Queen. Joining the likes of Pete Tong and Norman Jay as one of the very few DJs who can put "MBE" at the end of their names. Needless to say, given his reputation, getting a stellar line-up for his night "RamJam" wasn't a problem. Headlining alongside him was Shy FX, Hazard, Preditah and Darq E Freaker with Canal Mills serving as the venue. So realistically, it was never going to be a bad night.
After a Trappy set with some nods to Grime at the end courtesy of Darq E Freaker, Rodigan took over his creation. Starting as usual with music from his roots - Dub and Reggae in the form of dubplates, which all featured shout-outs from the artists to the man who has waved their flag at some of the UK's biggest radio stations. But never one to be stuck in the past, after an interlude of jungle classics, Rodigan moved on to tracks from the present, Tun Up (Dismantle remix), his personalised version of Breakage's Hard and the Rodigan edited version of TNGHT's Higher Ground being among my favourites. The 63 year old is still great to see live and has never disappointed me the countless times I've seen him since the first time at Outlook 2011.
Shy FX followed on; a man of similar prestige who alongside Rodigan and Chase & Status won the most recent Red Bull Culture Clash, beating defending champions Boy Better Know. Whilst being known for his Drum and Bass - which once made it to number 7 in the UK charts long before DJ Fresh turned to the dark side - he kept what had so far been the running theme of the night with a set that crossed the borders of a few genres: Garage and Grime tracks got some good airtime - So Solid Crew's 21 Seconds, Rebound X's Rhythm N Gash and a version of Next Hype which had the instrumental of Redlight's Source 16 to name a few. And of course there wasn't any lack of DnB, which was injected in a mix of classic Shy FX feel-good (Feelings and Shake Ur Body) and rawer, heavier tracks such as his classic Original Nuttah and the equally classic Mr Happy. All this was wrapped up at the end with another dose of Grime - which is enjoying a well-deserved surge in popularity this year and the last. Anthems from past and present such as Wiley's Wot Do You Call It, Dizzee's Fix Up Look Sharp and the song partly responsible for the 'Grime Resurgence' - Skepta's That's Not Me nicely rounded off one of the most energetic sets of the night.
Preditah, who has risen into prominence since his early releases with Butterz to remixing crossover appeal artists such as Chase & Status and Disclosure, was next on the set list. His set was about as "relaxed" as proceedings got in terms of the night's music, but everything is relative and Preditah's hour was by no means lacking in energy - it was just the fact that Hazard and Shy FX happened to be in the building too. He went in initially with some 125-130 BPM tracks which could be described as anything from 4x4 Garage to Grime or even House at times (maybe Bass Music is the easiest term), which provided a nice tempo change for everyone after the relatively relentless pace of the preceding sets. One song that I wasn't I able to identify had sampled the vocals from hip-hop classic Fugee-La while another sounded like a new (Preditah?) version of Pulse X. After the smooth intro segment, Preditah jumped into an array of 140, giving love to his native territory with the biggest dose of Grime of the night - Slang Like This, an OGz cover of Woo Glut, Bluku Bluku, P's and Q's... the list goes on. There was also some 140 of the Dubstep variety, the culprits being P Money's Crusader Freestyle and Benga & Coki's Night.
Finally, primed to take the crowds last remnants of energy at 4:30am was Hazard, a job he's long been used to having. The crowd was definitely willing, with a combination of good music and bad weather meaning that the room had hardly dropped in population considering the proximity to the end. Hazard had no need nor' desire to switch up the genres as everyone else had, just doing what he does best - namely playing hard jump-up as fast as he can mix it. However, while he of course let fly some of his bigger productions (such as Bricks Don't Roll and Time Tripping), he also deviated into some nice rollers which brought a complementary rumble to his otherwise snarly selection (namely Foreign Concept's When You're Alone). It was the optimal way for the crowd to empty what was left in their tanks, and by the end of his set no one had the energy for much more. I for one was satisfied, and while the order of DJs was pretty volatile in terms of energy and genres, it was this volatility which made the night feel exciting. I was often unsure of what to expect next and was usually pleasantly surprised.
Words by Arthur Seaward
Images courtesy of Samuel Kirby