Monday, 13 November 2017

Shabazz Palaces - Glasgow. Live review

Shabazz Palaces, Art School, Glasgow. 8th Nov 2017


American experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces create albums that can appear opaque and intriguing, but performing live present a surprisingly dynamic sound. Ishmael Butler raps and works the electronic gadgetry whilst multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire brings the energy with his live percussion. Last time I saw them in Glasgow was in a basement bar at the western end of Sauchiehall Street (can't remember which), but now they draw a bigger crowd on a Wednesday night at the Art School. 

The films projected onto the screen behind them hint at some of their influences; downtown streets, domestic scenes, Fela Kuti and Sun Ra all featuring. If you can imagine a shiny 1970s American car with Fela Kuti and Sun Ra blasting out from the 8 track, that gets you the flavour of Shabazz Palaces. Their latest albums featuring the character Quazarz comes closest to echoing Sun Ra's otherworldly ideas. You listen to the lyrics, feeling you have grasped the meaning, before it wanders away from you again. Their stories are of a black experience, but definitely at the prog-rock end of the hip-hop spectrum.

Shabazz Palaces at the Art School, Glasgow
The live show is tightly done, with one track sweeping into the next, the two performers in a constant dialogue of sound, and the live percussion just lifts it above the usual. The crowd were drawn in by the gripping show.

Energetic, confusing and intriguing. 

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