- Paddy Steer
The tucked-away cobbles of 24 Kitchen Street are usually home to DJs and their dancers until the early hours of the morning; tonight, the usual gloomy vibe has been replaced with live instruments, colourful lights, enticing projections and the sound of laughter brought forth from a slightly older age demographic, casually sipping their drinks, awaiting the return of UNITED VIBRATIONS. The London group’s latest album, The Myth Of The Golden Ratio, which packs a distinctive blend of Afrobeat, hip hop, jazz, funk and soul into its 10 tracks, is the reason for tonight’s busy gathering.
Opening act PADDY STEER evolves from an ordinary-looking bloke into a cosmic high priest before our very eyes, donning shamanic garb that’s complete with a helmet featuring glowing eyes. The one-man groove machine is a master of his craft, delivering a sound that cannot be placed into a single genre, but rather incorporates everything Melt Yourself Down manage to and beyond. Each crowd member interprets the music in their own way, moving with the distorted rhythms of Steer’s warped electronic version of Chic’s Le Freak. After his final song, Steer removes his performance attire to once again become an average guy blending into the crowd.
A two-piece blend who use trumpet, drums and synth to create galactic textures over mechanical rhythms, SPACEHEADS take to the stage after a short DJ interlude, announcing that they’re “going to take us on a cosmic train journey”. As their set evolves, the audience are transfixed on the duo’s ability to transport them to a whole new world through their ambient electronic timbres as the trumpet player moves into the crowd. With their final song Flip To The Future offering a more upbeat and lively sound, it’s almost as if the audience have been thrown into a time machine to experience the busy and chaotic jumble that is the future.
After an inter-set Prince tribute, United Vibrations take to the stage. Performing a series of tracks from their new album, the quartet execute a diverse blend of rhythms painted with call-and-response lyrics, melodic brass and driving drum patterns, all tinted with synth to present a fresh new element to their space jazz sound that would make idol Sun Ra proud. The catchy lyrical hooks of I Am We and Golden draw the crowd in to the set, but it’s later, near the end of the set, where the boys display their true talent. Without the crowd even realising, United Vibrations drift into a completely improvised jam, taking us on a journey through a series of immaculate saxophone solos that send the crowd into overdrive. With the crowd screaming for one more song, the band returns to the stage, selecting The Goddess Theme for their encore. Not only do United Vibrations deliver a sensational performance, their music conveys important messages about freedom, politics and how to achieve “a golden state of mind”.