REVIEW: BEARDYMAN @ ROXX – 22.11.13

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When I walked in to RoXX the first thing that caught my eye was the infamous Beardytron lying dormant on the stage. The three iPads dark and no lights on any of the various implements connected to them. The sense of anticipation was high and the venue’s relatively small capacity made it all the more exciting. There was an odd mix of music playing for what was a predominantly electronic artist (varying between electro and pop anthems), but there was also a less than typical audience; quite fitting for a less than typical performer.

Beardyman sauntered onstage at around 11:30 looking much the same as he always has: casually understated with hoodie up. This is a man unchanged by fame. The crowd was instantly captivated before he’d made a noise and we all surged a little closer, it suddenly seemed a lot busier and the atmosphere became tense waiting for him to start.

His first words were “How many of you like music?” which got roar from the excited fans clustering round the low stage. That’s a great feature of RoXX, you can get near the artists. There’s no security pushing you back, although later on one excitable fan was firmly moved on after climbing onto the stage and attempting (and failing) to crowd surf.

Beardyman is one of very few artists who can sample, compose and perform tracks right in front of you, which is impressive in itself, but combined with the range of genres he covers (and effortlessly switches between) it makes for a fantastic show, and this was no different.

It was different, however, to the last show of his I saw and many others he’s done over the years. Each seems to take on its own personality from a purely musical performance to something interactive with the audience. This show fell closer to the musical end of the spectrum which I expect reflected Beardyman’s feelings on the night; he is someone who enjoys his art but does it entirely his way.

The music he produced was fantastic and the crowd loved it all the way through. He is still the only artist I’ve seen who harmonises with himself. I’ve also never seen anyone dance like Michael Flatley, sing about gypsy fish and talk about members of the royal family doing less than royal things with animals, but this man does. The whole time the audience was dancing, singing or laughing.

There were a couple of minor technical glitches, the main one being a slight crackle in the microphone, but it was all fluidly and professionally glossed over with a short song about how much it was going to cost to replace it. Overall the quality of sound was good but the bass tended to not to be as strong as you’d normally expect.

The set lasted around an hour and twenty then he left the stage, leaving a loop going as if to make it clear he’d be back. After a couple of minutes he returned for a 15 minute encore. This mini-set was without the Beardytron, just straight up beatboxing down the mic. Suddenly the weak bass was gone and the room was shaking with every noise. It had the appearance of some kind of bizarre karaoke, but it was also a fantastic show of how Beardyman came to fame in the first place; by doing things with his voice that no one else can.

It was great to see Beardyman in such an intimate venue compared to some of the huge places he filled during his tour, and its a testament to him that he still chooses to do these types of event. If you missed out this time then make sure you’re around for the next time, it’ll be awesome.

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