Nightmares on Wax
- Hector Plimmer
- MC Nelson
Touring his latest album Shape The Future, NIGHTMARES ON WAX (George Evelyn) has been around for a somewhat astonishing 27 years. He pretty much pre-empted the sound of the 21st Century back in the 90s with the release of three albums that mixed soul, hip hop, and dub into a chilled soundscape that many have copied and which, given the critical acclaim of his latest release, is showing no sign of fatigue.
An expectant crowd is filtering into the Invisible Wind Factory as another eclectic and inspired set by No Fakin’ DJs precedes local rapper MC NELSON, who wastes no time in showing why he is garnering so much attention, his easy flow and jazzy beats setting the tone for the evening in a well-received set. He is followed by HECTOR PLIMMER who, along with keyboard player Dave Koor, hits an immediate groove, a rock-solid drum pattern underscoring a melodica style motif. Things take on a jazzy swing, tempo changes effortlessly executed, and they are joined by vocalist And Is Phi whose rich, relaxed tones enhance the trip hop vibe, coolly delivered over a dubby bass, which sees the growing crowd grooving as one.
While we wait for Nightmares On Wax, thunderous bass-heavy dance tunes fight against a tremendous hubbub from the sell-out crowd and I wonder how they will impose themselves on this gregarious gathering. George Evelyn takes to the stage and plonks himself down on the leather couch that sits behind a low coffee table bearing his keyboards and mixers. Having previously stated “… that’s why I don’t have a live drummer. The sound of the beats is what makes Nightmares”, it is interesting that he has now decided to test that philosophy with the inclusion of drummer Grant Kershaw (although I’m not quite sure that a drummer and additional vocalists equates to the advertised ‘full band’).
They begin with several numbers from the new album Shape The Future, the first couple of which do indeed seem to be competing with the crowd. The title track itself seems to hook them in, floating on an eerie synth wave and exiting on the chanted “Shape the future” refrain via a soulful introduction to the vocals of Sadie Walker, whose dreamy voice illuminates several songs. Among them is a superb rendition of Deep Shadows, buoyed by apocalyptic clouds rolling slowly across the twin video screens onstage. She and vocalist Mozez (Zero7) swap vocal duties with Evelyn, and the connection between dancefloor and stage is cemented as old favourites Flip Ya Lid, Les Nuits and You Wish really take the crowd to another level, singing and dancing along. At this point we can introduce the phrase “couch-dancing” into the vocabulary, as Evelyn bobs and weaves across the Chesterfield, projecting his spaced-out beats into the ether.
The decision to include a live drummer proves judicious as Kershaw turns in a virtuoso performance that brings so much to the overall sound – maybe a drum machine can do this but just to be able to watch Kershaw as his hands fly across the kit in a controlled fury is a joy, and his playing is sublime throughout.
The images on screen have run the socio-political gamut from Soul Train to starvation, and though Evelyn’s plea for funds for dance music charity lastnightadjsavedmylife.com could have killed the atmosphere somewhat, the crowd are supportive. An encore of up-tempo grooves – Be I Do, Da Feelin’ and Gotta Smile – ensures that the Invisible Wind Factory feels the bounce. Who says you can’t mix compassion and hedonism?