Having just about managed to nurse myself back to health after a dirty weekend in Brighton with Phat Kat, eLZhi & DJ Dez at the Doctor’s Orders, I am going to seize this brief moment of clarity and try to write some words about it. I had been looking forward to this gig for quite some time and, after a rambunctious MF Doom show and the incredible KRS-One & Supernatural, my expectations were high. Predictably the boys from the D answered with a set that placed them comfortably among the best live acts I have witnessed in person.
To kick off proceedings, Doctor’s residents Rusty Ryan and Spin Doctor opened with slick selections of classic hip hop, funk, soul and more recent joints. I probably take these dudes for granted somewhat and I shouldn’t – a good hip hop act is helped immeasurably by such talented support DJs. Deetroit took over at about half one in the morning and delivered a well-balanced selection of new music and classics in spectacular style. Highlights of the night included Cold Steel off of Phat Kat’s Carte Blanche album and the Flying Lotus remix of the Dabrye Classic, Game Over.
eLZhi stepped up with an incredible display of lyrical flair – I had a good idea of just how good this guy is from his work with Slum Village and Phat Kat, but there is alot to be said for seeing him in the flesh. He could even be spotted bouncing around the club to the sounds of DJ Dez following the show. I was particularly looking forward to the appearance of Phat Kat, an MC who has been on my wish list for quite some time now. He did not disappoint, bringing the unique voice and flow that puts him up amongst Guilty Simpson and Sean P for me. To see him in full assault mode was highly entertaining, but more on that later… I really wanted to hear a couple of his tunes off Slum’s Dirty District album, but the show didn’t suffer from their absence. Even in light of all this, the crowd were a little subdued at times, though this could be down to unfamiliar beats from the duo’s extensive back catalogues. It certainly made me realise that there is a load great solo stuff from eLZhi that I haven’t heard yet.
The Doctor’s Orders helped to deliver what was easily the most focussed hip hop show I have seen in ages, free of gimmicks and show pieces, featuring instead a large measure of outright lyricism. But even the best performances can be completely ruined if the venue isn’t up to it. Thankfully, Jam was refurbished relatively recently and is all the better for it; the ceilings are low, you can get really close to the small stage, and the sound system is crispy clear and easily loud enough to fill the room. The most frustrating aspect of the Doom gig was the sound, which was so distorted that it was difficult to make out most of the lyrics. No such problems here.
So the night was a resounding success – a great venue, a big crowd for such a niche act, and disgusting performances from the entire line up. Sadly, all this was not good enough for some clown who decided to pitch his drink on to the stage and then hide behind the not inconsiderable bulk of High-Rise himself. I really did not want to give this guy column inches, but Phat Kat dealt with him so well that it warrants a brief mention. Visibly pissed off, El Gato Gordo proceeded to spit his next bars point-blank into the kid’s smirking face before getting security to move him. A dedication to the suckers…