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Review of Fred Again – restless mood swings from the rave ringmaster | Fred again

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IIn the space of 18 months, producer, singer and DJ Fred Gibson’s artist nickname has gone from a propulsive declaration of momentum to a sigh of resignation at his sheer omnipresence (Fred? Again?!). You can’t move for the influence of South Londoners, whether it’s producing pop stars (Ed Sheeran, Pink, Aitch, etc.), dominating festivals (Glastonbury and Coachella, the latter alongside Skrillex and Four Tet), or to stir up anger. guardians of electronic music who balk at its aristocratic lineage (earls and barons figure prominently in its family tree) and the twee catharsis of its trio of diaristic albums Actual Life. A recent article exploring his dominance of streaming, radio, TV, and niche memes compared him to Coldplay; both create deeply cool, broad strokes of emotional music to unite and soothe.

Not that the folks crammed into north London hotbox Alexandra Palace seem to care what other people think. Tonight is the first of four sold-out shows, with demand for tickets so high that Gibson could easily have moved on to Wembley Stadium. Before he even appears on stage, groups of guys in their 20s with tight fades and Carhartt fanny packs take off their tops, while women climb on their shoulders seconds after the opening of Kyle (I Found You). But it’s a surprisingly low-key start, the song’s tactile beats, hissing riff and looping lyrical aphorisms slowly spreading through a crowd clearly ready to crunch.

They get their wish when Gibson asks the crowd to split in two so he can head to a small B-stage where another drum machine is waiting. The explicit heating Jungle, taken from his 2022 USB mixtape, explodes like a grenade (a fan waves a crutch in the air, visibly healed), Gibson bends over his instrument as if to try to resuscitate him. Flowdan’s collaboration with Skrillex, Rumble, quickly follows, with the crowd essentially levitating as the song’s gut-ripping machine-gun drum figure ricochets off the walls and across the awe-inspiring set design – rows of screens that s stretch across the ceiling and react to Gibson’s every hit. drum pads – overwhelm the senses.

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However, Gibson hasn’t quite mastered the beat, and he struggles to switch seamlessly between rave ringmaster and love ballad. Sad Mollie (Hear Your Name), overwhelmed by a jarring synth line, sends people streaming to the bar, while Bleu’s slow-burning catharsis (Better With Time) performs better on record than it does sighing into gargantuan speakers. . In fact, everything is so fluid and precise, from the visuals to the impeccable sound design, that the emotional moments seem too stuffy to really connect.

It’s best when it goes wild, extending Romy’s single Strong, which he co-created, into a galloping house anthem, turning the crowd into a chorus via a call-and-response moment involving the phrase “you don’t you don’t have to be so strong, I’m here”. It’s this sense of community and collective healing that Gibson is aiming for, whether through its impeccably curated social media or its ‘found sounds’ style of sound tapestry. Tonight the crowd is out there, waiting, and for the most part, they get what they want.

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theguardian

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