Monday, 18 October 2010

Concert Review: Groove Armada – O2 Brixton Academy, London, October 15, 2010

Groove Armada - O2 Brixton Academy

The year 2010 has been a massive year for Groove Armada.  They released their sixth studio album Black Light to great acclaim and followed up with an explosive string of concerts and festival appearances across Europe, America and Australia.  Groove Armada have finally come into their own and what do they do?  They announce that they are retiring and that the current tour will be their last as a live band.  It is no surprise then that we made our way to the O2 Brixton Academy in London to see their penultimate performance with mixed feelings of sadness and excitement.

RetroGrade - Groove Armada - Brixton

We took our seats upstairs in the circle balcony and it was all really nice as we listened to a DJ duo churn out a set of pleasant but down-tempo house tunes.  It all sounded rather ‘cocktail hour’ and I wondered for a moment if I was in the right place.  Any doubts I may have had were erased when support act Retro/Grade hit the stage.  They launched straight into a manic hour of banging techno tracks that soon had the audience whooping and cheering and definitely set the tone for the evening to come.  Retro/Grade describe their sound as falling into that space between disco and house music and they have done a great job of modernising the early Italo disco sound.

After reaching such a frenzied state with Retro/Grade, the wait for Groove Armada to come on to stage was almost excruciating but eventually Tom Findlay, Andy Cato and SaintSaviour bounded onto the stage and launched straight into “Look Me in the Eye Sister” and “I Won’t Kneel”.  The effect was incredible. SaintSaviour’s vocals are more impressive and powerful live than I could ever have imagined and it was thrilling to hear them start the evening with two of my favourite songs from the new album. 

SaintSaviour - Groove Armada - Brixton 4

SaintSaviour - Groove Armada - Brixton 2 SaintSaviour - Groove Armada - Brixton 3

SaintSaviour steals all of the attention on stage with her energetic dancing, crazy outfits and amazing voice but she was not the only star vocalist of the evening.  Up next was MC M.A.D. who entered the stage to massive applause from the audience.  MC M.A.D. is the distinctive ragga voice behind some of Groove Armada’s biggest hits and he has fantastic charisma and stage presence.

MC MAD - Groove Armada - Brixton 1

MC MAD - Groove Armada - Brixton 3MC MAD - Groove Armada - Brixton 2

Seeing Groove Armada live with this line up at this point in their career was an absolute treat.  It was an incredible show and with the help of SaintSaviour and MC M.A.D., Groove Armada delivered some of their biggest hits including “My Friend”, “Paper Romance”, “Cards To Your Heart”, “Fogma” and “Madder”. 

Groove Armada - Brixton 2

All too soon the band left the stage, returning only for a short encore.  It was a bittersweet moment as I realised that this was it, the moment where the live stage career of Groove Armada finally came to a close.  (I must confess to being in denial though and I somewhat hope that they’ll be back in a year or two).  That feeling of melancholy did not last for long though as they gave the most incredible send off when they finally broke into the opening chords of “Superstylin’” to manic cheers from the audience.  A fountain of silver and white balloons fell from the air as MC M.A.D. belted out this most favourite of Groove Armada songs and the crowd went crazy.  As the band left the stage, all you could hear was the popping of the balloons and the effect was not unlike hearing a fireworks display.  It was a thrilling, life-affirming moment and an absolutely fitting send of to a brilliant band.

Groove Armada - Brixton 1

Groove Armada - Brixton 5 Groove Armada - Brixton 4

Article first published as Concert Review: Groove Armada – O2 Brixton Academy, London, October 15, 2010 on Blogcritics.

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13 comments

  1. Really fantastic shots, Emm! They capture the atmosphere beautifully. Is this the new camera?

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  2. Wow!! Great post, Emm!
    Amazing photos of a fabulous band!!

    B xx

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  3. How is you always find the coolest bands? I have never heard of them and the video was awesome. I was bouncing around in Starbucks while watching. lol

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  4. Looks like you got a good seat mate with all those cool pics, or a really good camera or both!

    P.S Thanks so much for your message and support about my gamer blog. Infortunately I don't have the time to play the games anymore and felt I couldn't update my blog as I wanted to and still keep it interesting to my readers, so I had to let it go :(

    The news blog you saw has now replaced it as my 4th blog which will hopefully be a lot easier to maintain.

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  5. You have managed to take some cool pictures.

    Not many bands really mean it when they say are retiring, they usually always come back again...

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  6. @ Sheila: Thank you! It is not my new camera but it is a camera my friend lent me so that I could play around with a bigger zoom. I had a front row seat in the gallery and so was able to steady the camera too. I was so happy with the results!

    @ Lily & Betty & Marilyn: Thank you ladies!

    @ Lauren: Heh! The video was of the support act Retro/Grade but if you wander over to Addicted to Media, I posted a Groove Armada video for Music Monday. I was too busy bouncing in my seat to sit still for two minutes to record any Groove Armada!!

    @ Tina: That is a pity about your blog. Could you not keep it open as a BlogSpot blog so people could Google your reviews? I never buy games without reading reviews first. We had front row seats in the gallery so I was well pleased with the results of the photos!

    @ William: Thank you! I do hope you're right as I would like to see them again. I'd hope to not be so awestruck next time and to absorb a little bit more of what I was seeing!

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  7. I can't remember the last time I went to a concert. This looked like an electrifying performance.

    Many thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come visit again tomorrow!

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  8. I just had to look at he photos again.
    So beautiful!

    B xx

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  9. Really fabulous pics of a cool looking concert! You must be so pleased :-)

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  10. @ Joy: Hee. I love concerts!

    @ Betty: Thank you!!

    @ JaPRA: Yup - I was much happier with these than with my Muse photos.

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