People from Yorkshire are a hardy class of northerner, but it takes something truly special to assemble a 5000 strong crowd on a bleak Friday evening in the rain.
Celebrating a massive 25 years in the limelight of the Leeds club scene, Back To Basics yet again outdid itself with a highly exclusive show. In an unlikely marriage of musical worlds, the club joined forces with the orchestra of Opera North and Leeds City Council to create a breath-taking spectacle showcasing a series of re-worked club classics.
With a lineup that included artists and vocalists from Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada, Adamski and N:JOI (to name just a few) any self-respecting House head with a pair of legs and an umbrella knew they’d be mad to miss out, whatever the weather.
Set to a backdrop of grey skies and humid drizzle, the crowd in Millennium Square grew rapidly, swaying expectantly as they were slowly teased by an expert warm up session from Basics residents James Holroyd and Ralph Lawson. Though it would have been easy to succumb to temptation and drive the crowd wild by dropping bangers, these two knew their job. Percussive, deep and moody House grooves were the order of the day here. By the end of Ralph’s set the crowd were well and truly hyped and ready for the next chapter of the night to unfold.
As Dave Beer stepped up to take control of the decks, excitement grew until the first beats hit the crowd in unison with the haunting sound of the 50-piece orchestra. A euphoric wave unified the crowd with a newfound burst of energy. The sky even brightened and the rain relented, allowing the party to properly get under way.
Of the many anthems which were performed on the night, standout moments included the spine tingling organ melody of Detroit classic “Blackwater” by Octave One, and the massive violin crescendo of Fatboy Slim’s 90s Big Beat classic “Right Here Right Now”.
After being blitzed with so many pivotal moments in electronic music history, the crowd were ready for the vibe to be taken down a notch before the second orchestra performance. Rising to this challenge was Basics resident Tristan Da Cunha who unleashed a steady flow of solid and quirky House music, keeping the dancefloor primed and ready for grand finale.
This was where the party reached the craziness levels you could expect from Back To Basics. There were unfortunately too many peaks in the second performance to even attempt recalling a small fraction of it. However, one memorable part of the show included the re work of Primal Scream’s “Come Together”, provoking a real hands in the air sing along moment. Also a big crowd-pleasing moment was the guest appearance from MC Mad performing the Groove Armada classic House anthem “Superstylin’ ”.
Although it was a well-executed venture, the sheer number of people attending the event meant security was extremely tight. They were very unforgiving and at times unnecessarily rude to punters, which as we all know can dampen the vibe somewhat. The vast capacity also meant that it took almost an hour to get served at the bar. The irony seemed lost on a group of glammed up girls who were half way through the queue singing along to Rozalla’s “Everybody’s Free”. Free to spend a third of the show in a snake shaped queue for the privilege of spending £10 on a rum & coke and a bottle of water! Despite these trivial hindrances that you’d expect at an event of this size, everybody left with massive smiles on their faces, strangers hugging each other, and talking about the awaiting shenanigans at the after party.
It wasn’t just the music that made such a special night. As Basics have been running successfully for two and a half decades, there is a rich photographic history to document the club. In the run up to the event, Dave Beer encouraged people to donate photographs to be showcased on a large LED screen at the show. This was nostalgia at its finest, not least due to these photos featuring an astounding number of couples that met at their nights, and also a surprising number of what Dave dubbed “Basics babies”. This evoked a real sense that everyone was one big community, and Basics was the family House of music.
All too soon the show drew to a close, but not without ending on a massive high: A huge gospel style choir appeared, belting out an angelic version of Primal Scream’s “Movin’ on up”. This was performed alongside Basement Jaxx, MC Mad, Robert Owens, Corinne Bailey Rae and all the other vocalists who featured in the show. Staying true to the infamous Basics slogan, this event proved that they really have gone “Two steps further than any other f*cker."
The only question we’re left with now is: what on earth can they do to top this?
Photos courtesy of Back To Basics