Gig Review and Pictures: Magnetic Man at the iTunes Festival, London – 26/07/2011

Dubstep has come a long way in a short space of time. From being seen as Grime’s bullied little brother, it has gone down the gym, drunk gallons of Maximuscle and now looks down and laughs as Grime cowers in the corner.  This night epitomised that, the maturing of the sound that now represents youth rave culture.

Live Dubstep however does have to potential to be tedious and unimaginative; DJ’s simply pressing play on pre-mixed songs and throwing in a few samples for good measure.  It can lack the the raw, impassioned spontaneity of the best bands.  As the four laptops were rolled out, black tape suspiciously where the Apple logo should have been (it was their festival) my heart sunk a little… no drums, no guitars, the stage looked empty.  Just four laptops on a table.  What could they really do?

What they did was announce, define and confirm how exciting four laptops can be.  Whereas bands give you beautiful confusion, Magnetic Man provided heroic perfection.  The concentration across all three was intense.  It seemed each soundwave was being studied.  Any time something went slightly out, a knob was turned, a button pressed and the sound perfected once again.  Add on top the special effects, the tweaks and the bravado, Magnetic Man crowd created something quite special and enthralling.  Earlier today Skream tweeted the Roundhouse was “sounding MASSIVE!” and he was not lying.  The basslines vibrated your spine and shook your entire body.

With this epic sound being clinically perfected the crowd were worked up into a frenzy, like the Roundhouse had turned in to a Roman Amphitheatre.  The mob was craving blood, so, Skream, Benga, and Artwork, played their part; teasing with mellow instrumentals, sadistically punishing with hard hitting basslines then rewarding good behaviour with vocal anthems.

It was easy to identify the highlights of this show, it was the perfectly paced vocal bangers.  Each bringing its own treat, Ms Dynamite hitting the stage to rap Fire, Alex Clare flawlessly impersonating John Legend on Getting Nowhere, P Money instigating mayhem over Slang Like This and Anthemic.  The former induced a wild mosh pit more akin to an Arctic Monkeys festival performance than to a free gig in Camden.  Katy B’s appearance was a real crowd pleaser – Perfect Stranger creating just as much a karaoke session tonight as at her show last week.  Magnetic Man were flying.

Whilst the sound they created was immense, it would have been nice to see some live instrumentation.  Maverick Sabre really raised the bar with his live Dubstep and I think it would have added a whole new dimension of excitement to the show, and raised the bar yet again.  Then again, it would have also been great to see La Roux ride in on a white horse to sing In For The Kill before donning a JetPack and rocketing through the roof… but you can’t have it all (Boiling Water would have been a nice addition to the set too).

Magnetic Man proved to be superheroes tonight.  The set was sonically clinical and wildly energetic.  Great show, and it is definitely worth catching Magnetic Man live if you have the chance.  It offers far more than you’d expect from four laptops on a table (with a bottle of Petron for good measure!).

RobMagnetic Man at iTunes Festival, London - Ms Dynamite Magnetic Man at iTunes Festival, London Magnetic Man at iTunes Festival, London - Katy B Magnetic Man at iTunes Festival, London - P Money Magnetic Man at iTunes Festival, London

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