Rudimental at Alexandra Palace, gig review: Drum and bass has never been so accessible

The roaming brass section and interchangeable singers add to the exhibition, but it is the big tunes that really hit home

Shaun Curran
Monday 19 October 2015 15:10
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At their biggest indoor headline show to date, Rudimental set their stall out early. Within seconds of the house lights going down and a video of the London skyline edging its way into view, the full on Rudimental extravaganza is in full swing: as an 11-strong troupe of vocalists and multi-instrumentals parade onto the stage, multi-coloured flares smoke their way across the room, strobe lights flicker, and master of ceremonies DJ Locksmith prowls up and down hyperactively. Then the drop in Right Here comes, and the predictable mayhem ensues.

This is a drum ‘n’ bass carnival Rudimental-style, making the cavernous Alexandra Palace feel less like an inadequately PA’d enormodome and more like an underground gathering of disparate characters that are here to feel those colossal pre-chorus drops on a messy night out.

Of course, this being Rudimental, everyone is invited. For the Hackney collective, tonight represents something of a homecoming coronation, coming off the back of recently released second album We the Generation, which followed its predecessor Home to the top of the charts. Drum ‘n’ bass has never been so accessible.

It isn’t just themselves they’ve lifted to dizzying heights, either: Ella Eyre, Sinead Harnett and MNEK have all been helped up the ladder by singing for Rudimental. Some haven’t forgotten: John Newman lends his wavy vocals tonight for a rip roaring take of Feel the Love, the band’s first number one single and a track that seemingly set the Rudimental sound in cement. All of their following hits - Waiting All Night and Bloodstream, which features Ed Sheeran, reached number one and two respectively - haven’t dared stray from that massive drop, massive chorus principle.

As such, We The Generation adopts a disappointingly safe “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, and at times tonight can also appear formulaic. DJ Locksmith is an inclusive figure, and he tries every trick in the book to get us onside. Everything is in its right place: at all-too frequent points we’re asked to put our hands in the air, jump up and down, make some noise, get on people’s shoulders: as such, hands are frequently in the air, noise is made, people jump up and down, shoulders are climbed on.

But it means for all of the show’s spectacle, most moments are signposted like the M25, taking away any semblance of spontaneity. Yet it is all done with such enthusiastic abandon that resistance is futile. The roaming brass section and interchangeable singers - led by Anne-Marie Nicolson, a star in waiting - add to the exhibition, but it is the big tunes that really hit home: Never Let You Go and Waiting All Night, the grand finale, prove what a thrilling proposition Rudimental can be when their dynamism is matched by a chorus able to send people wild. As the confetti rains down at the end, the carnival boasted just enough of those moments to make it a homecoming success.

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