The first time I heard Labrinth I was sitting in the cupboard sized office of a cocky A and R man who said, “listen to this”. He played me ‘Let The Sunshine’. “I just signed him”, he said with a smug grin on his face, the smile of a man who just secured his job for another six months. “He’s gonna be huge” he smirked.
Now normally when I hear this comment I laugh because it’s usually a comment naively uttered in an attempt to cover up the insecurity of his enthusiasm, but this time this guy was right and Labrinth is huge.
Fast forward a couple of years and I’m watching him command the Brixton Academy headlining confidently with the crowd eating out of his hand. The audience danced and sang along to every track - from the start of ‘Climb On Board’ to the end of the night – it felt like the perfect balance between a festival and Fabric.
I thought I’d be standing in a crowed of 15-year-olds feeling quite old at 25, but Labrinth has a wide age range of fans from 14 to 40 and when listening to ‘Electronic Earth’ he is not alienating a single age group - everyone is sang along to ‘Express Yourself’ like a unified anthem from the terraces.
As I’m watching the band and Labrinth do his thing, I can’t help but feel I’m watching a definite change happen in live music and the music industry right before me. It really is his thing, as a multi instrumentalist/producer/songwriter/one-man band, I wondered how Labrinth and his music would translate to the stage – I was pleasantly surprised, it’s quite unique.
He has an acoustic live drummer who also uses electronic triggers, electric bass, keyboards and synth, a live mixing producer set up with two laptops (hopefully not doing a Guetta) and Labrinth who jumped between electric guitars, keyboards, vocoder and all sorts.
The whole stage show was extremely well put together, everything was timed perfectly. Each song was in the right place, from the stage position of each member on the stage to the lighting which completed the atmosphere of the room and the sci-fi-esque theme of the songs.
Although it’s a strange mix it has the same impact and grit as some of the rock and punk bands I’ve seen headlining the Brixton Academy years before. This unique mix of acoustic and electronic is perfect for these times and this venue and now I fully realise why he tours so much.
Throughout the night there were teases of special guests a faint murmur of “Tinie Tempah” being passed through the crowed and when Labrinth played ‘Pass Out’ the crowed burst with excitement, but Tinie didn’t come and to be honest he wasn’t missed.
Labrinth was more than capable of holding the stage on his own - he made his one hour 30 minute set feel like 45 minutes - nothing got boring and there was no awkwardness between tracks. His set has something for everyone dirty – club breaks and catchy sing along melodies, and as he ended the set I was reminded of the first time I heard his music in that little office. two still had that excitement more than two years later and found myself singing “let the sunshine” along with everyone else.
Written by ::: James Craise