On the back of the twentieth anniversary celebrations for his breakthrough album ‘New Forms’, Roni Size brought his party to the Scenic Stage of Margate’s Dreamland over the weekend. Bristol’s very own Drum n’ Bass dignitary came to showcase his 1997 Mercury Music Prize winning double album at the epicentre of Kent’s rejuvenated and re-imagined theme park.
Beside the shudder of the coasters, basking in the lights of the big wheel and amid the carnival atmosphere, Roni tore up the seaside resort with an onslaught of sophisticated and refined Drum n’ Bass beats. LTJ Bukem got the party started with a lively, heavier than expected, hour long DJ set before Roni took to the stage.
Only moments after Bukem had exited the stage right the countdown to the main event began and the build-up, like a boxer entering the ring, buoyed the atmosphere of the revellers gathered below the Scenic Stage. Size took up his lofty position on stage amid a plethora of technical gadgetry and behind a very impressive array of projection screens that were to elevate the whole performance.
The night began with a triple-segued entrée of ‘Morse Code’ followed by ‘Railing’ and the ever perennial classic ‘Brown Paper Bag’. The sound pumping out from the speakers more than filled the open air stage as the tectonic bass beats helped get the dancing started. The mix was phenomenal and sounded so good played out at such volume in such a unique setting.
Size played through massive slices of ‘New Forms’ and in doing so served to demonstrate just what a truly fantastic body of work it was, and still is. ‘Digital’ was a set highlight, as was the ever popular ‘Heroes’. The live take on the latter ensured that it was a clear crowd pleasing delight. The machine gun beats and high set vocal soared into the night air as the carnival atmosphere grew with each track.
The final third of the set was, as promised, dirtier and heavier than anything that had gone before as Size worked a crowd that had come to pay homage to a demi-god of Drum n’ Bass. ‘Dirty Beats’ was spliced expertly between tracks and shook the ground with its mix of subterranean bass, speeding snares and orchestrated violin accompaniment. ‘Simon Says’ was a cheeky surprise and penultimately Roni’s take on Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ was just a brilliant mash-up of styles to produce a extraordinarily good end result.
If the music were not enough then you couldn’t help but be blown away by the light show and projections that came with it. To say they enhanced the performance would be to do the whole show an injustice. It was without doubt, spectacular. The projections were immense, very often in 3D, seen as if to surround Size as he played out his set at breakneck speed. The light show was a feat of engineering and production and so well coordinated with each track it helped make the performance an experience rather than just another gig.
Size put on a great show, his penultimate of this tour, in what he described as “A crazy venue”. Through the night he thanked all those that had helped conceive and produce his seminal album. He was clearly still immensely proud of his Mercury Music Prize winning ‘magnum opus’ and name checked vocalist Onallee, DJ Die, Krust, Dynamite MC and his record label amongst others before popping out from his techno-tower to hold court in front of a very appreciative crowd. “Party, it’s what we do”, he said, and that’s just what they, and he, did on a memorable night in Margate.