Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards

The annual showpiece of Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards, returned to London’s Koko on Saturday 21st Jan. A colossal range of assorted live acts and DJ’s were featured, and all for a sell-out crowd. The event flies the flag for championing quality music from all quarters connected from Gilles Peterson’s radio show, and it was heartening to see this event strive to be another exceptional success this year.

One of the first acts on stage were The Pyramids, who took the prize for being the most creative performers, with a phenomenal, captivating act. Representing the true embodiment of free flowing jazz, you had a five piece band on stage putting together a fully theatrical show of many instruments, African musical influences, chanting and a wealth of entertaining stunts on stage. That included strident tap dancing and crowd pleasing talk from the frontman Idris Ackamoor. He would go on later, to win the Lifetime Achievement award.

Next live act was Michael Kiwanuka who delivered a grounded and effortlessly strong singing vocal, guided by a collection of gentle songs. His downbeat and tranquil performance did disappointingly expose a frustrating degree of chatter amongst some of the crowd, and perhaps the timing was a risk considering the lively DJ sets either side. Nevertheless he continued with determined spirit and delivered stand out performances of ‘Rest’ and ‘Home Again’. You could gauge how impressive he was in course of song.

The annual video salute to musicians who passed away in the last year then took place, which ended with the image of Gil Scott Heron gracing the video wall. This became the setting for two 15 year olds to take to the stage and pay a brilliant tribute to the epic compositions of ‘Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ and ‘Winter In America’, through a scholarly rap and grand vocal piece.

With the nominations and awards being dished out (rivalling the Oscar statues, the Worldwide Awards were handing out slinky springs!), Thundercat collected the best record label award on behalf of Brainfeeder, which happened to be presented to him by Jay Electronica. Thundercat then next rolled up for his performance slot. Glowing with what can only be described as a technicolour dreamcoat and a shiny bass guitar that was about to take a harmonious slamming as he jammed on stage. He exuded a proud dedication to performing the bass guitar, zoning out, eyes closed on stage many times, while he let the notes and understated vocals take over. This formed a major and absorbing element of his set along with his powerful drummer, that did drown out the cosmic and futuristic sounds of his music to some degree.

SBTRKT’s live show, propelled the event in a different direction, with a technically impressive performance of their outstanding music, set amongst murky atmospherics that added a gripping backdrop to their artistry. Both band members were surrounded by an intricate web of mixing desks, computers, music keyboard, and drum kits. Hidden behind native tribal masks, they both dynamically interacted with each other, multi-tasking with playing various instruments while recording samples and vocal harmonies in real time for immediate playback, building up the layers of each production. We were effectively witnessing performing and careful programming at a rapid rate.

‘Living Like I Do’ was a standout performance, with the introductory bass brainwashing the crowd for that immense anthem. But ‘Wildfire’ ended up being the most popular feature of the night. The sound levels jumping all over the place as Drake’s rap feature over the instrumental was played out and seemed to overwhelm everything else on stage. Then Sampha smashed the drums into action as the vocal commenced, where vocalist Yukimi from Little Dragon sang her part live, galvanising the whole venue.

Credit to Julio Bashmore for playing a great DJ set. He signed out with his anthem ‘Battle for Middle You’, which made for a spectacular moment, as the distant beat pattern built up into a quality, suspense filled break, that vividly resonated around the place. Such a memorable sight to see this track being embraced, turning the concert into a rave. Even Gilles Peterson himself got on the microphone to cheekily pay his respects to Julio Bashmore, right on the euphoric drop.

Hip Hop cover band ‘Bad Bad Not Good’ then got their turn on the stage. With the drummer unnervingly sporting a pig’s head mask, the jazz group that comprised of drummer, piano & bass player, played a lively show, interpreting various tunes in their own inventive and wild style. They brilliantly justified their cover of Rick Ross – “Hard In The Paint”, maintaining all the drama of that track, while throwing in an unconventional, lounging piano medley that unbelievably settled in very well for this grinding hip hop joint.

Throughout their show, it was the piano sounds that stuck out the most, being so rich in tone, all their performances sounded stirring and fresh for it. Especially when they serenaded the crowd to a crafty jazz version of James Blake – ‘CMYK’ and then ‘Limit To Your Love’.

And if that didn’t make enough of an impact, they also covered the addictive Gucci Mane – ‘Lemonade’ instrumental, which lends itself perfectly to the piano element within the band. All three band members flipped the tune and performed it to such intense levels, the pianist striking the keyboard with huge ferocity, and the drummer thrashing out the Lemonade hook so rapidly, that not even the speed of light was able to catch up. The mental energy on stage was reciprocated by the audience, still in huge numbers at Koko so late into the evening.

SBTRKT and Bad Bad Not Good were my best performers of the night, amongst an ocean of great talent that was on display during the evening. Jazz, dance and soul were on top form. We are much richer to have events like this in existence which join the dots up, standing firm to ensure that there really is broad spectrum amongst music.

Globetronica would like to thanks for words !!! Here's to 2013....

Published Wednesday Feb 1 '12