DJ Format, Olympic Lifts
In some ways this was a night of old and new, with Olympic Lifts unveiling their newest addition to the line-up, with a live drummer completing their transformation from 'traditional' hip-hop to 'proper' live band, while representing the old-fashioned among us was DJ Format packing a pair of 1210s and armed to the teeth with a box of 7 and 12 inches.
As for our band, the Olympic Lifts have mutated from their early Beasties era hip hop beginnings into almost B-52s cartoonish pop-punk - not that this is a bad thing when you can call on tracks like 'You Don't Want To F*** With The O L', although the new arrangement does seem to present occasional problems for our local lads, such as forgetting how to play the tracks. However, with jack in the box front-men and the rest of the band seeming to be similarly attention-seeking they more than compensate for the occasional problem. This new style from them adds a rockier edge to their performance, still funky, but more of a Brit-rock interpretation than those other hip-hop acts (the Roots, the Beastie Boys) who have made the same mutation.
And onto DJ Format. As mentioned earlier, he's going back to the old-fashioned old school tonight, two decks, a mixer and a stack of vinyl. Unlike some previous appearances there's no Abdominal to MC, instead it's a straight DJing, with no gimmicks, because there's no need as he blends, mixes, scratches and loops his own material with hip-hop heroes, soul, funk, afrobeat, jazz and even a bit of (admittedly classic and psychedelic) rock. This all leads to a textbook demonstration of the equation that Tunes plus DJ Skills equals a floor full of happy punters, as the mix creates an atmosphere of happy hedonism among the mostly older crowd - it seems that the younger generation equate hip-hop with the commercial posturing of the likes of Fiddy rather than the soulful party brought by the older artists. Highlights of the evening have to be a lovely little Cuban tinged instrumental version of 'Sunshine of Your Love', even the scratch in it can't deny it, and the soulful interpretation of 'Light My Fire'. The scratch gives Format (impossibly skilled and funky for a white boy from the south coast of England), a chance to show his charm and professionalism, playing the problem for laughs, but it's the end of the night that shows he's all about the love of music, having to be pretty much hauled off the decks to let the poor suffering venue's staff close up and get to bed. And to let us book appointments at podiatrists.
Pic: Lawrence Watson