Stepping into the Concorde 2 on a rainy, wind-swept night it was not the dry and warmth that hit me, but the bone-shaking power of the dub vibes being laid down by warm-up an Iration Steppas dj set. With foundation shaking basslines rippling through my body it was useless to resist swaying to the laid back tunes the formidable soundsystem was launching out at full blast. This was to be a gig that summoned the rhythm from inside you and got everyone dancing to the same beat.
The Iration Steppas did an excellent job of getting the crowd ready for the Nightmares on Wax Soundsystem — the live title of one of Warp Records most popular acts. Beckoning everyone forward to fill up the dancefloor, giving plenty of shout-outs and singing along to the tracks, the dj added that personal touch that made it feel like everybody had a responsibility to keep the party flavour flowing. So often faceless djs hide behind their music and hope people enjoy it — the Steppas make sure no one misses a step or resists getting down to their dub. The music was already setting an infectious groove.
given the live treatment tracks like the “Deepdown” become dancefloor dynamite
Then up stepped Nightmares, ably led by main man George Evelyn who is bringing latest offering In a Space Outta Sound to life with his turntable skills, a compliment of vocalists and a fellow dj. While initially disappointed there were to be no live instruments to convey Evelyn’s dub-heavy influences so abundantly drawn on for his new album, that proved to be my only qualm for the night. Opening with the soothing strings of the classic “Les Nuits” resounding round the room, additional beats were added and soon the Soundsystem was in full flow. Soul, funk, reggae, dub — it was all in there as the Nightmares became more like lullabies to relax the soul, put a smile on your face and get the feet moving. Such was the collective party vibe that whenever Evelyn called for the crowd to wave their arms along to another bouncy tune we duly obliged.
No Wax album has ever leapt out of your speakers and In a Space Outta Sound, the focus for this set, follows that tradition by being an effortlessly funky listen. However, when it is given the live treatment tracks like the sumptuous but downtempo “Deepdown” become dancefloor dynamite with its reggae drums and salsa flavours brought to full effect by the enthusiasm of Evelyn and his band behind the decks. Seeing the vocalists belt out their lines together with the skills of the djs bringing out the danceable dimension to the tracks give it the feel of a band putting on a performance unique to those present. Taking in past hits such as the singalong “Know My Name”, the saxophone-led “Easejimi” and soulful “Environment”, Evelyn was keen to remind us of how well he knows how to bring the best out of his music. It certainly worked for me — I never left the smiling mass bopping at the front and soaking up the good time flavour. I even forgot about the wind and rain outside through the summer-time sound. You don’t just feel fine after a Nightmares gig — you feel damn happy along with everyone else.