Regular readers should know by now that I’m a fan of Atmosphere. They’re easily my favourite group, and my last.fm profile proves it. I’m also a fairly decent Brother Ali fan. I’ve pretty much bought anything and everything that Atmosphere have put out in the last 10 years or so and consequently got put onto Brother Ali quite a while ago too. I’ve also seen Atmosphere before (in 2002/03?) but Mr Dibbs was playing the Ant role so technically I suppose it wasn’t quite ‘Atmosphere’. Blah blah. What I’m trying to get at is: there was simply no way at all I was going to miss the ‘3 The Hard Way‘ European tour this summer. Atmosphere (with Ant) and Brother Ali doing a joint show. Wowser.
They’ve already covered a hefty chunk of Europe but there’s quite a few dates left if you fancy it.. It comes heavily recommended. Last night was the Bristol stop, on board the legendary Thekla (which is actually much bigger than I remembered, but still easily small enough to be considered an ‘intimate’ venue. None of this stood-miles-away-and-cant-see-shit shit).
The drive to Bristol from Bournemouth is horrendously tedious but undoubtedly worth it. We arrived a little early and while generally, that’s not a great thing to do, it turned out alright because I got a chance to speak to Slug outside, and then Ant at the bar. I’m sure I said some stupid shit (I kinda told Ant, in a smug way, to give up smoking) but they both seemed cool about being interrupted by an over-excited me in a Rhymesayers shirt. It’s nice when your idols (strong word but seems apt) turn out to be normal and amiable isn’t it(?) Not that I thought they wouldn’t be but y’know..
Kidz In The Hall opened up, and though I’m only vaguely familiar with their music (a fact attributable to the vast majority of people there by the looks of it), I enjoyed the set. Credit due. Driving Down The Block was an obvious highlight. Also, I don’t want to sound old, but they were really really loud. My proximity to the stage/speakers didn’t help at all but still, loud loud loud.
After a short break, during which I randomly bumped into a couple of people I used to rap with back in Plymouth (word to The Cohorts), Ant came on and introduced Slug and Ali as ‘two of the best mcs in the world’. He wasn’t lying. For just under two hours, they weaved through their respective repertoires with ease. Haha.. That’s an awful line. I suck at reviews But they did do that; I don’t know how else to put it. With a group like Atmosphere who have such a massive back-catalogue, there were bound to be some tracks I’d’ve liked to have heard that they didn’t do but the set was more than diverse enough to keep me happy.. The tracks off the new album were dope – Guarantees is a great singalong, the bass drop on Puppets is immense – and the older tracks like The Woman With The Tattooed Hands are instant crowd pleasers by now. Scapegoat was a particular highlight for me.. *ahem* scpgt *ahem*.
Brother Ali proved why he’s such a renowned performer and I’m glad I’ve finally got to see him live. The man knows how to control a crowd.. Definitely an mc’s mc. Rain Water, Bitchslap, Forest Whitaker and Truth Is were stand outs. Throughout, they acted as each others hypeman and the whole sharing the stage thing worked really well, but it worked best with the songs they have together. Obviously. Blah Blah Blah and Cats Van Bags have always been favourites of mine, and seeing them done live, by both mcs, with Ant on the decks (/MacBook Pro) was sublime. When they walked off, my throat was red raw (haven’t had that happen in a looong time) but they reappeared to squeeze in an encore of Your Glass House and a little freestyle which is always entertaining. I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better show. Truly superb.
I got plenty of photos, a few of which are here and the rest are on flickr. Got a couple of bits of video too but the sound is atrocious. Ah well. You had to be there really 😉
More photos on flickr.