Seventeen years in the making, Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf shows Liverpool what its been missing, Getintothis’ Jack Atkins joins the rest of the Kazimier in losing his shit.
Depending on who you ask, 17 years can either be a very long time, or a mere blip. Before tonight, it had been 17 years since Peanut Butter Wolf had last played in Liverpool, during which time hip-hop as a whole has changed drastically.
In a night of triumphant returns, Manchester trip-hop outfit Fingathing also returned to the stage, having been on a sort-of hiatus since 2005. Their sound, a throwback to the Bristol led hip-hop of late 90’s Britain still sounds, and works, great. Combining double bass with turn-tabling, alongside live visual mixing, Fingathing‘s set sometimes feels more like an art performance piece rather than a music set.
Fingathing live at The Kazimier
The visuals on display (a cross between Rocko’s Modern Life, MTV before it went shit and Gary Larson comics) beautifully enhance the music, giving an air of controlled chaos, juxtaposed against FT‘s acid-trip inspired beat making. Their set does linger on a tad, to the point where it feels the crowd are politely observing rather than getting involved, but part of that feeling can be attributed to the imminent arrival of PBW.
When Peanut Butter Wolf takes the stage (half an hour late), there is a shambolic air present. His personal visual mixing equipment takes a while to set-up, before he welcomes the crowd in an almost sheepish way.
Even though he’s promoting the new Stone’s Throw Records documentary Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, Wolf informs us from the start that he “won’t be using vinyl tonight“, opting to solely mix music videos instead. You can feel a slight sense of deflation at this revelation, as Wolf has built his reputation on warm, intricate old-skool-esque beat mixing and scratching. Hearing he won’t be on wax is like going to a John Coltrane show and being informed that he’s ditched his sax for a kazoo.
Peanut Butter Wolf live at The Kazimier
As Wolf starts up, he throws out tributes to J Dilla, mixing promotional material from the latter’s Donuts, alongside images of classic 70s rock performances. Soon, the trepidation which aired at the ‘no vinyl‘ bombshell dissipates, as banger after banger is thrown out.
Wolf pauses halfway through Big Daddy Kane‘s Show and Prove, to the vocal displeasure of the crowd ready to lose their shit at ODB‘s part, to offer an anecdote about Jay Z playing a half empty club in the 90s, Wolf stating that he “didn’t think he was cut-out for this industry. I was wrong again as usual.” PBW punctuates his set with these little interludes, making the show feel more like a clinic than an out and out set, as he gives glimpses into his world and his craft.
Further tributes to Frankie Knuckles nestle alongside choice Gang Starr cuts, as Wolf proves why he is so respected for his art. Every track he throws out is met with unbridled fervour, with Wolf reciprocating in kind.
Peanut Butter Wolf live at The Kazimier
During the climax of his set, PBW proceeds to turn down the house lights and invite everyone on stage with him, eventually going well over his time slot and leaving the baying punters absolutely in awe at what they’ve witnessed. It was an amazing sight, and words can not do this gesture, or really this gig, any real justice.
Wolf himself later admitted that this was hands down his favourite show of the tour so far, with many of the hip-hop heads around Liverpool claiming it as one of the city’s greatest ever gigs. Hopefully this will convince Peanut Butter Wolf not to leave it another 17 years before gracing these streets once more, because he now knows that Liverpool will show him a very good time indeed.
Additional support on the evening: NO FAKIN’ DJs live at The Kazimier
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Michael Kirkham
Further reading on Getintothis:
Top 10: West Coast hip hop albums
Jonwayne and Mad Brains saddle up for Shipping Forecast joint
The Pharcyde: Bizarre rides, the making of a classic and J Dilla‘s legacy
GIT Award 2014: Artist nominee profile – Mad Brains
Ugly Duckling, DLA: The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool
Pharoahe Monch, Boogie Blind: The Kazimier, Liverpool