Ben Sims & Dax J
Friday 26th Feb
Mint Club, Leeds
Following a two-year hiatus, Leeds techno purveyors Blacklight made their return to The Mint Club. Leeds’ electronic music landscape has drastically changed since Blacklight took a break, with memories of their final party with Joey Beltram and Dave Clarke still present within the memory. With such a pronounced legacy having already invited true pioneers within the techno scene including Jeff Mills, Robert Hood and Surgeon, Blacklight were faced with the task of living up to a reputation, a stark contrast to troubles experienced by a new set of promoters bursting onto the scene. Nonetheless, Blacklight delivered a monumental return to form, picking up exactly where they left off two years ago.
Blacklight welcomed Ben Sims, one of the world’s most experienced and seasoned techno leaders, back to their rightful home beneath Mint Club’s rainbow illuminations. Dominating clubs since the early 90s with his unique combination of grinding funk and jacking rhythms, the UK pioneer seemed the perfect candidate to compliment the uncompromising approach that the brand is so notorious for. Alongside Sims, techno young gun Dax J demonstrated why he can stand shoulder to shoulder with the veterans of the genre.
Before Sims took to the decks, residents Omid and Tiptoe did little in terms of “gently” warming up the crowd, grabbing the room with both hands via their early selections. This seemed a well devised tactic by the promoters in order to flaunt their brand who well and truly announced the return of Blacklight in a no punches pulled fashion.
As the metallic drones of Joton’s Middle Ground filled the air, avidity escalated amongst the clubbers awaiting Sims to take to the decks. Tensions were suddenly obliterated by the thumping kick drum resonating around the club. Over the course of the set, it became apparent that Blacklight had constructed a blend of pure emotion and passion; rather than Sims having control over the party, the party had control over him. Tracks such as Sigha’s Pluralism sculptured the crowd around its twisted synth line and pushed to the point of maximum tension. Even some of the more exhausted tracks, such as Floorplan’s Never Grow Old, felt energised and fresh in the context and situation it was presented.
From the industrial jittering of his opener Imperial Propaganda to the classic stabs of Envoy’s Dark Manoeuvres, Dax J built on the high energy Sims had formed by bludgeoning the crowd with a monolithic wall of sound. Sergy Casttle’s Arpeggiator and Come on Neng demonstrate the Berlin-based producer’s clear devotion to rave culture, keeping the atmosphere fun and exciting even with the party venturing further into the morning. Not once throughout night was there a feeling of being alone with the music; rather being collectively united with others in a truly engaging experience.
Blacklight’s 2-year absence potentially provided the space and time to refine and establish the perfect party. What can be taken from the night is that Blacklight have once again regained their reputation for being able to provide the best techno experience in Leeds, demonstrating how creating the perfect atmosphere defines how a party is received.
Words by Ross Scarth
Photos courtesy of Blacklight