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AU60: The Bug live review

November 17, 2009

When I posted my interview with Kevin Martin (aka The Bug), I mentioned that the gig was a total belter. Here’s the review.

THE BUG AND DADDY FREDDY
BLACK BOX, BELFAST

In our last issue, Kevin Martin (for The Bug is he) promised that the live show would be “fucking all over the shop”, “confrontational” and “physical” but “enjoyable”. He wasn’t kidding, as tonight deserves to go down as one of the gigs of the year. It’s nearly over before it begins, though. A deafening blast of noise announces his arrival and demands attention before Martin, alone behind a desk of equipment at the back of the stage, powers into versions of ‘Angry’ and ‘Poison Dart’ from last year’s extraordinary London Zoo album. And then, as abruptly as it starts, the sound and lights cut out. Oops. 10 minutes of uncomfortable shuffling about later, Martin is back and this time there are no familiar bangers to cling on to. For half an hour until ragga MC Daddy Freddy arrives, it’s a sonic battlefield of harsh noise, dancehall beats and teeth-rattling bass – aggressive and deafeningly loud, yes, but compellingly danceable as well.

Eventually, Daddy Freddy does turn up and the mood changes, taking us from confrontation and aural punishment to a chaotic dance party. The familiar tunes are back – ‘Jah War’, ‘Warning’, the peerless ‘Skeng’ and reprises of both ‘Angry’ and ‘Poison Dart’, each with Daddy Freddy completely ignoring the original vocal and letting rip over the top in his own ultra-fast style. It’s a total riot, the MC’s charisma matched to the mood of the crowd and Martin solemnly going about the business of making us move, hard. They are originally scheduled to play for an hour, but once the hour is up the encores begin – largely led by Daddy Freddy, it must be said. Running out of his own material, Bug (as the MC addresses him) starts to DJ, playing fucked-up, noisy versions of dubstep producer 2562’s smooth, spacious ‘Techno Dread’ and even Dawn Penn’s classic ‘No, No, No’. Thought you’ve never heard it quite as gnarled as this before. We hit 2am and the lights come up, closing support act Filaria not even getting a chance to play. It’s a shame, but how would you follow that anyway?

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