Bristol Old Market Assembly | 25th March
Dizraeli is an individual of seemingly unceasing energy and remarkable memory. His live performance this evening did nothing but provide more evidence of that. The venue is an unusual one as it looks like a restaurant, feels like a bar, becomes a venue and has a small theatre nestled out the back. The downstairs quickly filled to capacity as excited individuals herded around the upper level eagerly hoping to glean as much of the good vibe being projected as possible.
Against the prelude of room rattling reggae Dizraeli arrived on stage bearing a bust ordained with feathers which resembled the cover of the Leroy Merlin EP. The crowd recognised and responded to it appropriately. He opened the set with ‘John the Baptist’; the second track off the EP. Leaving behind the more organic sounding multi-instrumental feel he had during his time with the small Gods, Downlow is now his sole musical backdrop. This comes with a distinct change of tone. On the EP’s tracks especially, there is a sense of murky urban dystopia like the sort you’d find with Joy Division or some of the rougher Wu Tang material.
Add to that the energy and conviction of the vocal delivery all swept up with the evocative and fascinating lyrics that flowed relentlessly, if you could keep up with them all. It was a pity then that the sound system, being small and positioned on the ground floor, meant that the words were somewhat distorted and difficult to follow outside of the immediate audience area. Mind you this was much less of a stadium esteeming gig than a house party that had bloated and burst its banks with an MC, the focus of attention and vice for all of our frustrations and hopes. Being a Stokes Croft resident originally this was very fitting and the acapella rendition of Bomb Tesco was accompanied with resonating kinship from the many singing along.
It was refreshing to see such extensive use of the decks too. All the scratching and switching had a very old school London hip-hop vibe. You could almost taste a bit of Mark B and Blade about it, especially given the narrative and socio/political commentary that was often occupied in the rapping. Towards the end the retro predilection oozed out in spades with Grandmaster Flash’s The Message, Witness (1 hope) by Roots manuva and Dizraeli and the Gods track Million Miles over the top of the 900 number. By the time the end of the performance was rolling closer there was a wonderful care free unity about the room and as the space opera sounding Rise kicked in people were po-going insanely.
Even though Leroy Merlin himself who had inspired the EP could not make the gig, his insistence that we pass around a quality bottle of rum to share made him everyone’s favourite ragamuffin Oliver Reed within a period of five short drinking minutes. Coming towards the end of the show it felt like Dizraeli is an artist in a slightly transitional stage. Although there is a wit and playfulness that is ever pervading in the music; he very succinctly touches on darker issues in some of the newer material trying to reach into that cultural sense of hopelessness that is so prevalent at present. Either way he is exceptionally talented vocally and poetically and it has to be said that the lean and manic silhouette he projected on Saturday night was more engaging on its own than some of the gigs I’ve been to.
Check out ‘Have a Rum’ below.