Abstract Orchestra plays Madvillainy: 24 Kitchen Street, Liverpool

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Abstract Orchestra

Abstract Orchestra

As Abstract Orchestra brought the classic Madvilliany to 24 Kitchen Street for Liverpool Music Week, Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan donned her Hip Hop head and headed out for the ride.

A packed out 24 Kitchen Street witnessed Abstract Orchestra’s top notch musicians perform a reworking of the classic album Madvillainy by Hip Hop supergroup Madvillain.

Do we have any hip hop heads in the building?

We arrived nice and early to find 24 Kitchen Street half full with a crowd already bouncing their heads along to the DJ. The cramped stage was packed with instruments, music stands and folders of sheet music. Not your usual set up for a hip hop gig let alone a performance of such a seminal album but it made us more intrigued none the less.

There was a buzz as though we were about to witness something special. We clocked a guy wearing the iconic metal Doom mask as excited audience members asked for selfie’s.

As MC Nelson’s support started, we heard his voice and immediately looked towards the stage. Instead, the voice was coming from the darkest corner of the room, in-between the DJ booth and the bar.

With no room onstage, the hip hop and spoken word artist, who recently toured with Ghostface Killah, played in the middle of the crowd. The audience gathered around, his lyrics flowed over smooth grooves and beats. Onlookers were hypnotised from the beginning as the lyrics with nods to Liverpool helped warm up the venue.

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Without having to wait long, all sixteen members of Abstract Orchestra filed into place. Flutes, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, keyboards, drums and bass were all squeezed in with band leader and arranger Rob Mitchell up front and centre to guide us on our journey through the 22 song long Madvillainy.

Originally released in 2004 by MC MF Doom and producer Madlib, the record used obscure samples from old American, Brazilian and Indian jazz and soul records along with dialogue from 1940s movies and broadcasts.

The hip hop supergroup went on to influence a generation of artists such as Joey Badass, Bishop Nehru, Jungle and even Thom Yorke with just that one album.

From the beginning the crowd were bouncing to the beat. Abstract Orchestra are a band full of incredibly skilled musicians who were obviously enjoying playing the music they loved. The saxophone solos and super fast keys stood out the most as various band members laughed and grinned throughout the whole set.

Whilst their arranger kept them in line like a true conductor with various hand gestures yet seemingly having a laugh at the same time. MC Jefferson provided vocals and kept the crowd nodding along to the beat, introducing band members and grooving along to songs, clearly enjoying the music as much as the crowd.

The vibe was tight and perfectly played, staying true to the beats and sounds of the original record but with extra brass section. This just added to the spectacle as the arrangement complemented the songs perfectly and left us wanting to hear how the next interpretation would go.

For those still hanging on for a follow up to the 2004 album performed tonight, or even wishing one day to hear it live by it’s original composers, this was a very fine substitute for the real thing that keeps the magic collaboration of MF Doom and Madlib very much alive.

Images by Getintothis’ Lucy McLachlan

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