It’s been close to twenty years since I set foot in the venue that is now Sheffield’s Carling Academy. The latest addition to Carling’s nationwide suite of live venues, in Sheffield’s case its something of a godsend. Those familiar with the city will remember the Academy in its previous incarnation as The Roxy, something of a torturous seventies throwback “a chicken in a basket club” with a questionable door policy and subsequently slightly dicey reputation.
Fast forward to the present though and the Academy has opened its doors and appears to be settling into the city nicely, a lick of paint and some fresh carpet have seen the building garner something of a new lease of life and the venue has already played host to some sizeable names (Reverend & The Makers, The Human League, James). Last night however the venue played host to ‘Part Of The Weekend Never Dies’ a night of music courtesy of Soulwax/2 Many DJ’s ably supported with sets from Riton and Ladyhawke.
My only exposure to Ladyhawke so far has been courtesy of the single ‘Back Of The Van’ which as singles go has merit, the rest of the material isn’t quite as immediate and I reckon it might take repeated listens before it lodges in your consciousness. Slightly muddy sound didn’t help matters (this did improve later) and in a live environment the emphasis on the rock aspect of her material came to the fore. Nonetheless, a decent showing for an audience that will hopefully be more familiar with her work when she shows up next.
Riton of course is a more familiar name and was a safe pair of hands to follow, by this time the crowd were paying attention and whether he knew it or not his set did in places pay a kind of homage to the music you would hear in the venue “back in the day” (there were snippets that a few recalled were from old hip-house numbers). As a whole though he worked well to lay the foundations for the rest of the night.
By the time Soulwax actually took to the stage the crowd were suitably primed for something big to happen. They weren’t disappointed either, on good form they mined their back catalogue extensively with a great emphasis on the remixes for other artists and quite bizarrely reproduced them with no small degree of accuracy. They weren’t slavish to detail however and this provided enough variation to please the crowd. Their rendition of Lovelight (which they completely rebuilt for Robbie Williams) was highly representative of their live set. Lots of squally bass and cavernous beats that arm the listener with that strange compulsion to move. You could start riots with stuff like this.
After another interlude from Riton it was time for Soulwax to jettison their live form and return to the stage in their 2 Many DJ’s personas. They have in the past been criticised for not meandering far enough from their acclaimed album set (As Heard On Radio Soulwax Part 2, if you haven’t got it, shame on you). You couldn’t make that accusation on this occasion, the set was freshened up with new cuts (Wiley’s Wearing My Rolex popped its head above the parapet) and of course it wouldn’t be a Sheffield set if there wasn’t an obligatory Warp track which in this case was LFO’s Freak (still a vicious little crowd pleaser) and of course there were stuttered up contributions courtesy of The Human League (Don’t You Want Me) and Pulp (Disco 2000) the latter track almost didn’t work, but they pulled it off by the skin of their teeth.
As time has gone by the 2 Many DJ’s experience for me has always proven to be consistent. The mixing as always is classily done and as always they prove to be masters of the “shock drop”, guiding you through one track before dropping the unexpected right in your lap. First rate stuff, and something of a baptism of fire for dance music at a new venue.